AmphibiaWeb - Hyla avivoca
Hyla avivoca (Viosca, 1928)
Bird-voiced Treefrog
Subgenus: Dryophytes
family: Hylidae
subfamily: Hylinae
genus: Hyla
Taxonomic Notes: Duellman et al. (Zootaxa 2016) treated two major clades as genera; AmphibiaWeb treats these two clades as subgenera(Hyla in the Old World; Dryophytes in the New World and East Asia), thus stabilizing traditional taxonomy.

© 2006 Nathan Nazdrowicz (1 of 17)

  hear call (575.3K MP3 file)
  hear call (130.6K WMA file)
  hear call (172.7K WMA file)

[call details here]

Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
NatureServe Use NatureServe Explorer to see status.
National Status None
Regional Status None
Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (1 records).

bookcover The following account is modified from Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species, edited by Michael Lannoo (©2005 by the Regents of the University of California), used with permission of University of California Press. The book is available from UC Press.

Hyla avivoca Viosca, 1928
            Bird-Voiced Treefrog

Michael Redmer1

1. Historical versus Current Distribution.  Bird-voiced treefrogs (Hyla avivoca) range from extreme southwestern South Carolina, southwest across Georgia to the Florida Panhandle, west across the Gulf Coast (roughly including the southern half of Alabama and statewide in Mississippi) to the east side of the Mississippi River drainage, and north through western Kentucky and Tennessee to extreme southern Illinois (Drury and Gessing, 1940; Gentry, 1955; Smith, 1961, 1966a; Barbour, 1971; Mount, 1975; Martof et al., 1980; Ashton and Ashton, 1988; Conant and Collins, 1991; Redmond and Scott, 1996).  Bird-voiced treefrogs also occur west of the Mississippi River, in isolated populations in central and northwestern Louisiana, the Red River Drainage of extreme southeastern Oklahoma, and in eastern, central, and southern Arkansas (Blair and Lindsay, 1961; Krupa, 1986c; Dundee and Rossman, 1989; Trauth, 1992).

2. Historical versus Current Abundance.  Historical abundance is unknown and therefore cannot be compared with current abundance.  Bird-voiced treefrogs are currently listed as Threatened in Illinois (Redmer and Kruse, 1998), where many remaining colonies are isolated due to past drainage of hardwood swamps.

3. Life History Features.

            A. Breeding.  Reproduction is aquatic.

                        i. Breeding migrations.  Males are stimulated by warm temperatures and will chorus by day in treetops in the same swamps used for breeding.  Chorusing often begins ≥ 1 mo before breeding (Dundee and Rossman, 1989; Redmer et al., 1999a), an indication that males spend the entire year in the vicinity of the breeding site.  The prolonged breeding season begins in late spring (April in the southern part of the range; May in the north) and lasts throughout much of the summer (Fortman and Altig, 1974; Mount, 1975; Krupa, 1986c; Ashton and Ashton, 1988; Trauth, 1992; Redmer et al., 1999a).  In Illinois, chorusing commences at dusk and lasts until temperatures drop below about 16 ˚C or until most males are paired; few individual males chorus after midnight.  Individuals are occasionally found alive on roads adjacent to swamps in which they breed (Redmer et al., 1999a,b).

                        ii. Breeding habitat.  Hardwood swamps and forested flood-plains, especially those consisting of cypress (Taxodium distichum) and tupelo gum (esp. Nyssa aquatica) trees (Viosca, 1928; Fouquette and Dalahoussaye, 1966; Trauth and Robinette, 1990; Redmer et al., 1999a).  Most males call from elevated positions in trees and other woody vegetation over water (Parker, 1951; Secor, 1988; Trauth and Robinette, 1990; Redmer et al., 1999a).  Females approach and touch calling males to stimulate amplexus (Redmer, 1998), or males may initiate amplexus with approaching females (Trauth and Robinette, 1990).

            B. Eggs.

                        i. Egg deposition sites.  Amplexed pairs have been observed on the branches of trees and shrubs, in reeds (Phragmites sp.), willow thickets, and a shrubby farm pond (Parker, 1951; Turnipseed and Altig, 1975; Trauth and Robinette, 1990; Redmer, 1998).  After amplexus begins, the female descends (carrying the male) head first to the water surface to oviposit.  When the female reaches the water she rotates and backs her posterior into the water.  Oviposition takes place with the female clinging to the vegetation, and eggs sink to the bottom substrate (Redmer, 1998). 

                        ii. Clutch size.  I have examined clutch size in 12 females and found a mean of 632 eggs (range 409–811; unpublished data).  Because of the prolonged breeding season and presence of yolked ovarian eggs in individuals that have oviposited, it is possible that females of this species lay multiple clutches (as do females of some other North American Hyla), though direct evidence of this is lacking (Trauth and Robinette, 1990; Redmer, 1998a).

            C. Larvae/Metamorphosis.  Tadpoles have been collected in the water under the perches where amplexus occurs.

                        i. Larval period.  Lasts approximately 30 d (Hellman, 1953; Volpe et al., 1961; Trauth and Robinette, 1990).

            D. Juvenile Habitat.  Juveniles are sometimes found perched on low vegetation or on the ground adjacent to swamps used for breeding (Redmer et al., 1999a).

            E. Adult Habitat.  Prior to and following the chorusing season, adults are sometimes found perched on low vegetation, on the ground, under logs, in shrub thickets, or in tree crevices in or adjacent to swamps used for breeding (Parker, 1951; Dundee and Rossman, 1989; Redmer et al., 1999a).

            F. Home Range Size.  Unknown.

            G. Territories.  Males combat to defend chorusing sites from other males (Altig, 1974).

            H. Aestivation/Avoiding Dessication.  Unknown.

            I. Seasonal Migrations.  Unknown.  Daytime chorusing in treetops over the same swamps used for breeding might indicate that males spend the entire year in the vicinity of the breeding site.

            J. Torpor (Hibernation).  Conditions under which torpor occurs in wild are unknown.  Captive individuals refuse food and become sluggish; their movement is noticeably uncoordinated at air temperatures below 15 ˚C (unpublished data).

            K. Interspecific Associations/Exclusions.  Bird-voiced treefrogs comprised 0.8% of the total population of three species (also including cricket frogs [Acris crepitans] and green treefrogs [H. cinerea]) of hylid tadpoles in an upland pond in Mississippi (Turnipseed and Altig, 1975).  In Illinois, large choruses of bird-voiced treefrogs are most often associated with choruses of cricket frogs, bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana), and green frogs (R. clamitans; Redmer et al., 1999a).  Males may chorus with or near choruses of green treefrogs, though male perch sites rarely overlap (Turnipseed and Altig, 1975; Secor, 1988; Redmer et al., 1999a).  While it has been reported that green treefrogs often predominate in more shallow water areas with emergent herbaceous vegetation, whereas bird-voiced treefrogs prefer deeper areas with woody structure (Turnipseed and Altig, 1975; Redmer et al., 1999a), the opposite also has been reported (Secor, 1988).  Differences in chorus sites and breeding call may usually act as isolating mechanisms, but hybridization with other Hyla is known to occur naturally and has been demonstrated in the lab (Mecham, 1960a, 1965; Fortman and Altig, 1974).

            L. Age/Size at Reproductive Maturity.  Mature females from Illinois were found to be 2–4 yr old (unpublished skeletochronology data).  Male ages at sexual maturity are unknown.  Females (32–52 mm SVL) are larger than males (28–39 mm SVL; Neill, 1948a; Wright and Wright, 1949; Smith, 1961; Trauth and Robinette, 1990; Redmer et al., 1999a; unpublished data).

            M. Longevity.  Maximum known age is 4 yr for females (unpublished data).  Male longevity is unknown.

            N. Feeding Behavior.  Individuals feed primarily (if not entirely) on arboreal arthropods (Jamieson et al., 1993; Redmer et al., 1999b).

            O. Predators.  Observations of predation in the wild are unknown, but birds, water snakes, and other vertebrates probably prey on juveniles and adults.  Tadpoles are probably consumed by aquatic invertebrates and vertebrates.

            P. Anti-Predator Mechanisms.  Unknown.

            Q. Diseases.  Unknown.

            R. Parasites.  Protozoans, trematodes, and cestodes have been reported (Reiber, 1941; C.T. McAllister et al., 1993a).  A report of a trypanosome (Woo and Bogart, 1984) is questionable because the host reportedly was collected in Ohio, a state from which this species has not been documented.

4. Conservation.  Bird-voiced treefrogs are currently listed as Threatened in Illinois, where many remaining colonies are isolated.  They have fairly specific habitat characteristics, including bottomland hardwood swamps and forested flood-plains, especially those consisting of cypress and tupelo gum.  This habitat specificity may have had, and may continue to have, consequences for the conservation of this species.

1Michael Redmer
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Chicago Field Office
1250 South Grove Avenue
Barrington, Illinois

Literature references for Amphibian Declines: The Conservation Status of United States Species, edited by Michael Lannoo, are here.

Feedback or comments about this page.


Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2022. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 30 Sep 2022.

AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.