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Friday, September 23, 2011

Species Spotlight #4: Northern Cricket Frog

Starting in early spring in the Piedmont, if you go walking through the woods you may find a small puddle or maybe a ditch with some water in it, and suddenly all around you’ll also find a multitude of small frogs fleeing from your footsteps. These are Northern Cricket Frogs, perhaps the most common amphibian in this part of the state.

Trying his best to hide, but it's not gonna work!

Our Northern Cricket Frogs come in two main color morphs – one is the totally brown one seen above, but the other is a more common greenish one, with other frogs spanning a gradient between these two. These are the frogs that you can hear calling all around you in the woods, their constant kik-kik-kik becoming a familiar background noise, and they’ll inhabit any patch of standing water that can be found.

It's tough trying to photograph these guys by flashlight!

I found these guys while on a walk to the heron rookery that’s formed behind the Glennstone subdivision in northern Durham. I was supposed to be looking for American Woodcocks, but because the clear-cut prairie that existed when the subdivision was first built has given way to short, early succession pines, the woodcocks can’t be found much anymore – I’ve only ever recorded a single individual there. 

In any case, the Northern Cricket Frogs made it a fun night. The brown morph one I found near a rocky stream, but the green one was calling with a dozen other individuals from a water filled ditch. I assume they’d bred there the first chance they got, as little cricket frog tadpoles were swimming all around. Apparently the species is declining over the northern part of its range, but don’t tell the frogs down here – they seem to be doing just fine on their own!

1 comment:

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