Far outside the city the tree frogs were calling her,
and the deep, rhythmic pulse of their voices

set the blood flow to her heart.
Ann Patchett, Author

Spend time out of doors in the Pacific Northwest and you will hear the call of the Pacific Chorus or Tree Frog. These cute little treefrogs are the smallest frog species in Oregon (at about two-inches) and can be found from northern California into Canada and as far east as Idaho. A few have even been introduced in Alaska.

But do they really call or sing? Yes! Male Pacific treefrogs use sound to attract females as part of the breeding process. It is amazing how loud these little critters can be as they attempt to attract females. The best time to hear them is usually from December through May depending on altitude. The song includes “ooh-yeeh” or ribbiting sounds (like “Krr-r-r-eek”) that are made through the males very stretchy, dark vocal sac that puffs out as they sing.

The frog’s skin is often a shade of green or brown but will change color seasonally to better match the environment. Depending on the season, they may also be tan, reddish, gray, brown, cream, or black with a variety of markings, stripes, and small bumps. The frog’s skin is highly permeable and thus very susceptible to chemical poisoning.

The frogs are predominantly nocturnal and can be found in a variety of riparian habitats often near water. This could include wetland, woodlands, and grasslands, chaparral, pastures, lakes, streams, and even in back yards with a water source nearby during mating season. Their range outside of mating season can include significantly larger and dryer areas.

To find them, look under rotten logs or rocks, in long grass or leaf litter, tree cavities, and hunting in shrubs and trees. Their toe pads, which are long and slightly webbed and coated with a sticky substance. This waxy, sticky substance helps keep their skin moist and helps them climb and hang-on to surfaces. They also have a sticky tongue! What a great advantage when hunting and ambushing spiders, beetles, flies, ants, slugs, snails, etc.  And, eat insects almost as large as they are by slightly expanding their bodies.  

Predators can include snakes, raccoons, birds (like herons, egrets), and other small mammals and reptiles (such as newts). They can be very difficult to spot because they blend so well into their environment when holding still. Their comparatively giant hop gives them away as they try to escape.

Protection. Treefrogs are on the decline in Oregon and are very sensitive to pesticides and herbicides.  The Pacific treefrog is classified as Nongame Wildlife (OAR 635-044). It is unlawful “to purchase, sell or exchange or offer to purchase, sell or exchange” treefrogs (ORS 498.022). It is also unlawful to move or relocate treefrogs without a permit from Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Anyone who wants to capture frogs or their larvae for educational or scientific purposes must first obtain a Wildlife Scientific Taking Permit from a local ODFW office (ORS 497.298, OAR 635-043).

For more information on treefrogs and inviting them into your garden see:  Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Frogs and Toads page at https://myodfw.com/wildlife-viewing/species/frogs-and-toads. For more indepth information download the ODFW Living With Wildlife flyer on the Pacific Treefrog at: https://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/living_with/docs/LWW_Pacific_Treefrog_final.pdf. For more great quotes see https://www.wisefamousquotes.com/quotes-about-frogs/.

What is red with 10 legs?
A Red Rock Crab!

Red Rock Crabs are native, plentiful, have very liberal bag limits, and are great eating. Dungeness crab are be larger and more meaty, but have significantly lower bag limits.

Photo courtesy of ODFW

Identifying

These feisty crabs are deep, brick red. Their large red claws are tipped in black, and their body is a wide fan-shape. They can grow 10-inches across or more. Typical sizes are 7-inches for males and 5-inches for females. The farther north, the darker the shell.

Red Rocks are ‘walking crabs’ where all of the legs look similar. The back legs on some crabs have flippers making them a ‘swimming crabs’ (such as the Eastern blue).

Territory and Habitat

Red Rock Crabs inhabit mid-intertidal waters up to about 260 feet from Alaska to Baja California. They are common to Coos, Yaquina, and Tillamook bays that contain rocky substrates.

Rock crabs prefer rocky areas, pilings, and other structures. They favor larger, salty estuaries, eelgrass, soft-bottom habitats, and shellfish beds.

They pinch!

These crabs are mean and will pinch hard! They prey on hard-shelled clams and oysters–Your fingers are no match to those hard shells. Note: They also have teeth. Consider their defenses as they are a favorite prey for the giant Pacific octopus.

Avoid harvesting in months that don’t have the letter “r” in the name.

Harvesting

Before you go: Call Oregon Dept. of Agriculture shellfish safety info hotline at (800) 448-2474 or visit the ODA shellfish closures web page (http://ODA.direct/ShellfishClosures). This site has updates on several different types of seafoods including crab, clams, mussels, and scallops. It covers are from the mouth of the Columbia River to the California border. There are maps, bag limits, closures, and potential warnings, etc.

Catch both Dungeness and Red rock crabs using the same technique.

The crab legs have a lot of meat, like most crabs. Extracting Red rock crab body meat is more challenging because the crab is smaller. There are different cooking techniques that can take advantage of this difference. See the Spruce Eats (https://www.thespruceeats.com/pacific-red-and-rock-crabs-1300653) for ideas.

REFERENCES and INFORMATION RESOURCES:
–Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, Red Rock Crab (https://myodfw.com/crabbing-clamming/species/red-rock-crab) and Crabbing and Clamming Report (https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/crabbing-clamming-report/marine-zone)
–Wikipedia, Red Rock Crab (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cancer_productus)

Coyote (photo courtesy of ODFW)

Where did you first learn about coyotes? It may have been through children’s cartoons. The characters ‘Wile E. Coyote’ and the ‘Road Runner’ cartoons recreated the relationship between predators in a humorous way. Unfortunately, the representation is not very accurate.

Coyotes are North America’s oldest indigenous species. The oldest modern coyote fossils date to 0.74–0.85 Ma (million years) and can be found in Hamilton Cave, West Virginia. Coyotes are thought to have originated near Yellowstone three million years ago!

Habitat

Coyotes are found throughout Oregon. Their territory stretches south to Central America and north through much of Canada.

There are 19 different subspecies of coyotes inhabiting different areas. They look similar in that they are medium in size with multi-colored coat, and bushy tail.

Coyotes are part of the Canidae family which include wolves (typically larger) and foxes (typically smaller). These three species avoid using the same territory at the same time.  

Conflicts

As populations flourish, are they a nuisance? Conflicts between humans and coyotes usually occur as a result of human errors, often related to making food available.  And, because of the cartoon, we all know that the coyote is always hungry and looking for its next meal.

See Living with Coyotes fact sheet from the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (link in References).

Diet

Coyotes will eat just about anything and will shift their diet seasonally and based on availability. If they have to eat grasshoppers to survive, they will. On better days they will be looking for mammals (such as rabbits, porcupines, rodents, squirrels, deer, goat, mice, etc.), fish, amphibians, , and reptiles, fruit and vegetables, and in times of food shortages invertebrates (like grasshoppers), farm animals (like chickens) and even pets. Coyotes also hunt in packs, usually for larger prey.

Communication

Unlike the cartoon, coyotes are intelligent and adaptable, and use a highly developed communication system to maintain long-term social and family relationships, and identify territory. Coyotes are considered to be the most vocal of all [wild] North American mammals.

Their howl, or group howls, are easily recognizable. They will also vocalize greetings, which can include a group yip howl.  Sounds can also include agonistic/alarm, and contact which may be made through woofs, growls, huffs, barks, yelps, and high frequency whines. Yelps are a sign of submission.

Vocalizations are also important, and often heard, during breeding season (generally between late January and March). Coyotes form strong pair bonds for several years and are generally monogamous.

These vocalizations always include some body language such as tail wagging, muzzle nibbling, and posture. An aggressive coyote will arch its back and lower its tail, head moving side to side, with spins and dives. Aggression is a normal behavior in a pack and fights are often silent.

Folklore

Native American folklore contains many references to coyotes. Coyotes may take the form of a trickster, skin walker, or in military/hero symbols, often as savvy and cunning. In Mesoamerica, the Coyote appears in several codices as the god of dance, music and carnality (sometimes as a womanizer). The Coyote also has parts in many creation stories from several native cultures.

Coyotes are an evolutionary success story. Their cunning, adaptability, communications, and ability to understand human behavior makes them stand out both in folklore and in modern times.

REFERENCES:
–Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (https://myodfw.com/wildlife-viewing/species/coyotes-wolves-and-foxes, https://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/living_with/coyotes.asp)
–National Geographic (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/c/coyote/)
–Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coyote, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast_and_Furry-ous)
–The Howling: Why You’re Hearing Coyotes This Month (https://blog.nature.org/science/2019/02/13/the-howling-why-youre-hearing-coyotes-this-month/)
–Singing Coyote – the Ultimate Adapter (http://followingdeercreek.com/coyote/)