Monday, August 15, 2022

Episode 634 (8-15-22): Coyotes and Frogs Call Out on a Virginia Summer Night

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (5:33).

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Extra Information
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 8-12-22.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the weeks of August 15 and August 22, 2022.

MUSIC – ~19 sec – instrumental.

That’s part of ‘To the Wild,” by the Virginia band The Steel Wheels.  It opens an episode about a chance hearing of two very different kinds of wild animals, and how they might be similar or different, including in relation to water.  Have a listen to their calls for about 20 seconds and see if you know these two types of animals.  And here’s a hint: one’s in a scientific family with, and the other rhymes with, dogs.

SOUNDS  - ~21 sec.

If you guessed coyotes and frogs, you’re right!  You heard barks and other sounds from coyotes, along with calls of Gray Treefrogs.  This lucky recording on the night of July 5, 2022, in Blacksburg, got your Virginia Water Radio host exploring potential connections and contrasts between this terrestrial mammal in the dog family, and this partially aquatic amphibian.  Here are seven areas of note.

1.  Like other living things, both coyotes and frogs are largely made of water and require it for biological functions.  Unlike coyotes, frogs can absorb water through their naked skin, that is, skin without scales, feathers, or fur.

2.  As amphibians, Gray Treefrogs breed in water, which of course coyotes don’t.

3.  Like other mammals, coyotes keep a constant body temperature, and they evaporate water through panting to cool themselves.  Frogs’ body temperature fluctuates with the environment; having naked skin that’s permeable to water, frogs are at risk of drying out if their habitat isn’t moist.

4.  Coyotes and adult frogs both have lungs for exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, but, in frogs, gas exchange also occurs across their skin.

5.  Both are notable for their sounds.  Coyotes use barks, howls, and other sounds to communicate to family members and to potential competitors, and frog males use calls to attract females, signal their presence to other males, and perhaps to startle away predators.

6.  These animals appear together in at least three Native American legends, including one from the Kalapuya people of Oregon, called “The Coyote and the Frog People.”  In this story, the coyote sneakily digs through a dam the frogs use to hold all of the world’s water for themselves; this then creates all the rivers, lakes, and waterfalls and ends the frogs’ water hoarding.

And 7.  Both coyotes and Gray Treefrogs show remarkable adaptability to human environments.  Coyotes are noted for occupying habitats near humans, such as city and suburban parks.  Gray Treefrogs, meanwhile, can also be found in human spaces, such as in swimming pools or on house walls or decks.  One wildlife biologist consulted for this episode said that in his Virginia county coyotes seem to “saunter by houses like they own the place”; in the frog world, noted another biologist, Gray Treefrogs have a somewhat similar reputation.

Thanks to several Virginia Tech faculty members for providing information for this episode.  Thanks also to The Steel Wheels for permission to use their music, and we close with about 30 more seconds of “To the Wild.”

MUSIC - ~30 sec – Lyrics: “I’m gonna run to the wild.”


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this episode.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


Virginia Water Radio thanks Mark Ford, Kevin Hamed, and James Parkhurst, all in the Virginia Tech Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, for contributing information to this episode.

The Coyote and Gray Treefrog sounds heard in this episode were recorded by Virginia Water Radio in Blacksburg, Va., on July 5, 2022, at approximately 10:15 p.m.

“To the Wild,” by The Steel Wheels, is from the 2017 album “Wild As We Came Here,” used with permission.  More information about The Steel Wheels is available online at  This music was used previously by Virginia Water Radio most recently in Episode 490, 9-16-19.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at


(If not otherwise noted, photographs are by Virginia Water Radio.)

Coyote, photographed in Virginia Beach, Va., February 27, 2016.  Photo by Shawn Dash, made available on iNaturalist at (as of August 15, 2022) for use under Creative Commons license “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Internbational.”  Information about this Creative Commons license is available online at

Gray Treefrog on the deck of a residence in Blacksburg, Va., September 23, 2009.


The following information is excerpted from “Coyote” and “Gray Treefrog” entries of the Virginia Department of Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources’ (formerly Department of Game and Inland Fisheries) “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at  The Coyote entry is online at; the Gray Treefrog entry is online at

Coyote (Scientific name: Canis latrans) 

“Coyotes are thought to have started being seen in the 1950’s and the 1960’s here in Virginia, particularly in the western part of the state, and they now have an established population throughout the state.  Current occurrence throughout the state is attributed to the steady eastward migration of this species, which is due to the elimination of other large carnivores, such as red wolves, from their former ranges and to coyotes being highly opportunistic feeders and thus are highly adaptable to many habitats.”

Physical Description
“The males are generally larger than the females...with a body length of 1.0-1.35 meters, and a tail length of 400 millimeters.  The coat color and texture shows geographic variation, but usually the coat color is a grey mixed with a reddish tint.  ...This species is generally smaller than the grey wolf.  ...The track (70mm by 60mm) is more elongated than the domestic dog but shorter than either the gray or red wolf.”

“Yearling males and females are capable of breeding.  The percentage of yearlings breeding is controlled by food supply.  Gestation lasts 63 days.  The mean litter size is 5.3 and is affected by population density and food supply.”

“The home range size of the males is 20-42 kilometers (km), and for females 8-10 km.   The female home ranges do not overlap whereas male home ranges do.  The average daily travel is reported as 4.0 km, with dispersal movements of 160 km not uncommon.  Favorable den sites include brush-covered slopes, steep banks, thickets, hollow logs, and rock ledges.  The dens of other animals may be used.  ...Dens may be shared and used for more than one year. ...Coyotes use visual, auditory, olfactory and tactile signals for communications.  They eat mostly rodents and rabbits but also take berries fruits and carrion.  They are primarily nocturnal and their howls can be heard for miles.”

Gray Treefrog (Scientific name: Hyla versicolor)

“In Virginia, this species is distributed in the mountains north of the New River drainage, in the Blue Ridge, and in the Piedmont.”

Physical Description
“This species is identical in appearance to Hyla chrysoscelis [Cope’s Gray Treefrog] but they do not interbreed.  These two species can be distinguished by chromosome number and by male mating call. ...Both species are well camouflaged.  They are usually gray but coloration ranges from gray to whitish to brown to green dependent upon environment and activities.  There is a whitish mark beneath the eyes and a bright orange or yellow on the concealed surfaces of the hind legs.  The dorsal skin is warty.  This species ranges in length from 32 to 62 milllimeters (1.25-2.5 inches).”

“Males call between March and August.  ...Breeding generally occurs from March to June.  The female lays clumps of 10 to 40 eggs per group on the surface of shallow ditches, puddles, and ponds  ...Eggs typically hatch in 4 to 5 days, and metamorphosis occurs in 45 to 64 days.”

“This species is not often seen on the ground or near the water’s edge except during the breeding season.  It tends to forage while in small trees or shrubs near to or standing in water.  This species is an opportunistic feeder focusing primarily on larval Lepidoptera [butterflies and moths], Coleoptera [beetles], and other arthropods.”

Limiting Factors
“This species is fairly arboreal, foraging from trees and shrubs in the vicinity of water. ...In general, this species requires shallow ponds with fallen branches or herbaceous growth on the water's edge.”

Aquatic/Terrestrial Associations
“This species is typically associated with the following forest types: black willow, sweet gum-willow oak, white oak-red oak-black oak and mixed pine-hardwood.  They are frequently found in recently disturbed areas with shrub and herbaceous cover.”


Used for Audio

Atlanta Coyote Project, “Coyote Activity Patterns, Ranges, and Vocalizations,” online at

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, “Animal Fact Sheet: Coyote,” online at

Burke Museum [Seattle, Wash.], “All About Amphibians,” online at

Epic Ethics, “Coyote Returns Water from the Frog People—A Native Kalapuya Tale,” online at

First People of North America and Canada, “Native American Legends,” online at

Kevin Hamed, Virginia Tech Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, personal communication, August 11, 2022.

Richard W. Hill, Comparative Physiology of Animals: An Environmental Approach, Harper & Row, New York. 1976.

Internet Sacred Text Archive, “The Coyote and the Frog,” identified as a Hopi contained in The Traditions of the Hopi, by H.R. Voth (1905), online at

John D. Kleopfer and Chris S. Hobson, A Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia, Bureau of Wildlife Resources Special Publication Number 3, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries [now Department of Wildlife Resources], Richmond, Va., 2011.

Lane Community College [Eugene, Ore.], “Kalapuya: Native Americans of the Willamette Valley, Oregon,” online at

Miami [Fla.] Children’s Museum, YouTube video (4 min./39 sec.) of “The Coyote and the Frog People,” celebrating Native American Heritage Month, November 3, 2020, online at

Brian R. Mitchell et al., “Information Content of Coyote Barks and Howls,” Bioacoustics: The International Journal of Animal Sound and its Recording, Vol. 15, pages 289–314 (2006); online (as a PDF) at

National Geographic, “Coyote,” undated, online at

National Parks and Recreation Association, “Coyotes Have Moved into Parks Across the United States—Now What,” by Richard J. Dolesh, Parks & Recreation, April 6, 2018, online at

New Hampshire PBS, “NatureWorks/Gray Treefrog,” online at

Oregon Encyclopedia [Oregon Historical Society], “Kalapuyan Peoples,” by Henry Zenk, undated, online at

James Parkhurst, Virginia Tech Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, personal communication, August 11, 2022.

Roger Powell et al., Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Fourth Edition, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, Mass., 2016.

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources [formerly Department of Game and Inland Fisheries],
“Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at; the Coyote entry is online at; the Gray Treefrog entry is online at

Ya-Native, “Coyote Takes Water From the Frog People—A Plains Legend,” online at

For More Information about Coyotes or Other Mammals in Virginia or Elsewhere

Richard A. Blaylock, The Marine Mammals of Virginia, Virginia Sea Grant Publication VSG-85-05, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, 1985, online [as a PDF] at

D.W. Linzey, The Mammals of Virginia, McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company, Blacksburg, Va., 1998.

University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, “Animal Diversity Web,” online at  The Coyote entry is online at  Information on mammals specifically begins at

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, “Wildlife Information,” online at

For More Information about Gray Treefrogs or Other Amphibians in Virginia or Elsewhere


University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, “Animal Diversity Web,” online at  The Gray Treefrog entry is online at  Information on amphibians specifically begins at

Bernard S. Martof, et al., Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1980.

J.C. Mitchell and K.K. Reay, Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Virginia, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries/Richmond (1999); available online [as a PDF] at, courtesy of the Virginia Herpetological Society.  [Herpetology refers to the study of amphibians and reptiles.]

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources:
“A Guide to the Salamanders of Virginia,” online at;
“A Guide to Virginia’s Frogs and Toads,” online at;
“List of Native and Naturalized Fauna in Virginia, August 2020,” online (as a PDF) at;
“Virginia is for Frogs,” online at;
“Wildlife Information,” online at

Virginia Herpetological Society, “Frogs and Toads of Virginia,” online at


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the “Amphibians” and “Mammals” subject categories.

Following are links to some other episodes on Gray Treefrogs.
Episode 524, 5-11-20
– survey of animal sounds.

Episode 528, 6-8-20
– on Gray Treefrogs generally.
Episode 631, 7-4-22
– a July 4th “debate.”

Following is a link to an episode on animals’ ways of getting water.
Episode 531, 6-29-20

Following is a link to an episode on animals’ regulating temperature.
Episode 309, 3-28-16


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2018 Science SOLs

Grades K-4: Living Systems and Processes
K.7 – Plants and animals have basic needs and life processes.
1.5 – Animals, including humans, have basic life needs that allow them to survive.
2.5 – Living things are part of a system.
3.4 – Adaptations allow organisms to satisfy life needs and respond to the environment.
4.2 – Plants and animals have structures that distinguish them from one another and play vital roles in their ability to survive.
4.3 – Organisms, including humans, interact with one another and with the nonliving components in the ecosystem.

Grades K-5: Earth and Space Systems
2.7 – Weather patterns and seasonal changes affect plants, animals, and their surroundings.
3.7 – There is a water cycle and water is important to life on Earth.

Grades K-5: Earth Resources
3.8 – Natural events and humans influence ecosystems.
4.8 – Virginia has important natural resources.

Grade 6
6.6 – Water has unique physical properties and has a role in the natural and human-made environment.

Life Science
LS.3 – There are levels of structural organization in living things.
LS.5 – Biotic and abiotic factors affect an ecosystem.
LS.6 – Populations in a biological community interact and are interdependent.
LS.7 – Adaptations support an organism’s survival in an ecosystem.
LS.8 – Change occurs in ecosystems, communities, populations, and organisms over time.
LS.9 – Relationships exist between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.
LS.10 – Organisms reproduce and transmit genetic information to new generations.
LS.11 – Populations of organisms can change over time.

BIO.2 – Chemical and biochemical processes are essential for life.
BIO.8 – Dynamic equilibria exist within populations, communities, and ecosystems.

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Grades K-3 Civics Theme
1.13 – People of Virginia’s state and local government, contributions to communities, and diversity of ethnic origins, customs, and traditions, under a republican form of government with respect for individual rights and freedoms.
2.3 – Lives and culture of Powhatan, Lakota, and Pueblo peoples.
3.13 – People of America’s diversity of ethnic origins, customs, and traditions, under a republican form of government with respect for individual rights and freedoms.

United States History to 1865 Course
USI.3 – Early cultures in North America.

World Geography Course
WG.2 – How selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.3 – How regional landscapes reflect the physical environment and the cultural characteristics of their inhabitants.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15
– on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20 – on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20 – on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20 – on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.
Episode 606, 12-6-21 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.