We call them ‘Barkers’ (Hyla gratiosa) and they are, in my opinion, one of the prettiest animals with legs in the southeast. These pretty little frogs are uncommonly seen south of Lake Okeechobee, so I was not even really aware of their existence until one evening while camping in Okeechobee County. I came across a strange looking frog amongst all the other Green Treefrogs outside of the camp bathroom under the porch light.
Since then, Barkers have been one of the staples of my herping targets. They are especially interesting to me because they seem to reduce in number south of Lake Okeechobee, and most range maps don’t have them covering all of Florida. Even so, some friends and I have found and heard them in several counties where they have never been vouchered for, and I personally think one could find Barkers in every Florida County. In fact, proving this will be one of my pet projects when summer rains dampen the snake cruising.
Barkers are a fun frog to pursue, often calling all summer long on both rainy and dry nights. They are often unpredicatable as to their ease-of-tracking. Sometimes, Barkers will call loudly and continue to do so even while a person shines light into their face, gets up close and takes pictures; and at other times they will quiet down and take flight under the water as soon as they catch a glimpse of artificial light.
Interestingly enough, Barkers are somewhat consistent (at least in southern Florida) as to their habitat preference. I often find them chorusing in flooded fields and ditches that border Pine flatwoods, as well anywhere water pools in prairie habitat. I can assure: when first you hear the Barking Treefrog’s blurting call interrupting the quiet night, it will be a song you will not soon forget.