Photo of the Week – April 1, 2011

A few years ago, I found this toad in one of our restored prairies along the Platte River.  It was late April, and the toad was in mesic prairie, about 10 yards from the edge of a wetland swale.  It (she?) had made itself a perfectly-fitting little depression to sit in and was content to sit still while I photographed it.

A Woodhouse's toad in restored prairie.

My assumption is that it was enjoying the warmth of the sun in the recently-burned prairie and was dug in to stay out of the cool breeze (and maybe to keep a low profile to predators).  However, knowing the knowledge base that exists among my blog readers, I’m confident that some of you will add to and/or contradict my assumption!  …and I’d welcome that.

This particular toad is a Woodhouse’s toad, and is my personal favorite toad species because of it’s call.  You can listen to its distinctive “WAAAAAAAAAAAHHH” call here

Another shot of the same toad, showing more of the context of the prairie around it.

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
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10 Responses to Photo of the Week – April 1, 2011

  1. Stephen Winter says:

    Nice call. It reminded me of a time I was in a crowded restaurant with a bunch of friends, including a herp enthusiast who proceeded to do a full-volume imitation of a narrow-mouthed toad (wine was involved):

    http://www.uga.edu/srelherp/anurans/gascar.htm

  2. My guess is that he is getting moisture from the earth, stabilizing his temp and doing a good job of blending into the environment to protect himself from predators.

  3. Connie Anderson says:

    I too believe it is to absorb water through the abdominal skin.

  4. Karen Hamburger says:

    Hey Chris
    I know a canyon in SW Nebraska where these critters will sing you to sleep and beyond!! If someone would make a hour long recording of them they could sell it to the nature nuts like me that cant sleep at night…..just an idea!
    Love the blog. Keep up the good work.
    Karen

  5. Chris,
    Can your wonderful pictures be reproduced for community outreach? My concern is that your pictures on the blog are copyrighted – I think however community outreach (that is, displayed at a non-profit community Think Green Day) would be “Fair Use” – please advise – and thank you for taking super photos- Dawn

    • Chris Helzer says:

      I’m not sure if that fits under fair use or not, but please feel free to check in with me on specific cases and I will consider each one. I’m generally supportive of the use of my photos for true prairie conservation outreach.

      Chris

  6. Natalie Goergen says:

    I love the call. It really freaked my cats out.

  7. Dan Fogell says:

    Hey Chris…I meant to respond earlier but allowed life to get in my way. The behavior the toad is exhibiting is standard toad behavior. Being primarily nocturnal, during the day they bury themselves in soil to prevent themselves from drying out and/or overheating. During early evening or just after a rain, they’ll emerge from their soil pits to either forage or breed.

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