Congratulations to Joshua Phillips for winning the September 2023 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! His photo of an unexpected bird house occupant received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.
That makes back-to-back wins of the Photo-observation of the Month for the wonderful Gray Treefrog! In contrast to last month’s froglet, here we have an adult Gray Treefrog capitalizing on the end of the breeding season for Vermont’s birds by taking up residency in a nest box. Gray Treefrogs are highly arboreal, so while it may be surprising to see a frog perched in a bird house like this, if any species were to find their way to this cozy abode, it’d be a Gray Treefrog. A mostly nocturnal species, Gray Treefrogs tend to stay out of sight for most of the day before ramping up their vocalizations and activity around dusk. With cooler temperatures on the way, Gray Treefrogs are beginning to seek out secluded spots to shelter away for the winter and brumate (an amphibian version of hibernation). Using chemicals produced in their liver with antifreezing properties, these tough frogs are capable of freezing solid while their cells remain intact, ready for the spring thaw. This particular Gray Treefrog shouldn’t bet on being the sole occupant of this nest box for long, as plenty of Vermont’s overwintering bird species that would take advantage of a cozy place to spend a cold winter night would also enjoy a surprise frozen frog snack. While this Gray Treefrog seeks out a tree crevice or a sheltered spot under some leaf litter to spend the winter, you can learn more about this species in Vermont on the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas site.
Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!