|Cope's gray treefrog. Photo taken at Ijams Nature Center|
This I know and dearly love to my core: As May fades into June and cool evenings give way to sultry ones, male gray treefrogs creep from the shadows to pine for females. The urge is primal, the call guttural, argent, full of longing.
In late spring, the temperature warms, the chorus frogs of February and March go mute and fade into the background. On damp muggy evenings here in East Tennessee, especially after a heavy rain, male Cope’s gray treefrogs make their presence known.
These small (1.25 to 2 inches long) frogs are gray-to-green and covered with splotches for camouflage. They look like lumpy hunks of tree bark and like to hide in the shrubbery amongst the leaves and branches, often it seems a long way from water. Once the male and female bond, all they really need is a little rain and a shallow temporary pool to reproduce. It's just that simple, but finding each other is the bugaboo. All it takes is a Tom Waits like vocal.
The male’s soliloquy is a short raspy trill. EErrrrrrrrrrrrr! If it’s warm enough, you can hear these isolated crooners March through October, but the calls generally peak May through July.
Cope’s gray treefrogs are quite common in a wide variety of wooded habitats, even suburban settings with plenty of trees and shrubs for cover.