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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Species Spotlight #20: Green Frog

I hear it all the time. Every time I pass a pond rife with duckweed, or a stagnant canal, or a streamhead. A distinct sound, like the bottom string of a banjo struck by an untrained student. Bonk! Always once, never in succession. This is the sound of a Green Frog. And they are hard to find!

A month or so ago, Ali and I found a small pool that had a Green Frog calling from it. There was nowhere to hide, no nooks, crannies, or thick vegetation. We found a large Bullfrog vocalizing from a low-hanging branch, but still the Green Frog called, and we couldn’t find it. That’s when we found a long tunnel dug into the earth, flooded with water until there was barely any space to rest. Still the Green Frog called.

We were never able to find that specific individual, but I’ve seen Green Frogs before. When James and I visited Howell Woods last summer, the resident park ranger spun a yarn about a Bullfrog that would sit at the edge of an artificial pool, waiting for hummingbirds to come and drink before striking with deadly force. Of course I didn’t believe the story, but once I looked down into the pool, I saw a very similar individual – a Green Frog lay among the lilies.

It’s a difficult identification, and it’s no wonder the park ranger didn’t note the caudal ridges that differentiated this individual from the closely related Bullfrog. It’s a frog that’s often heard but rarely seen. Yet they’re always present, hidden in the pond scum or under a muddy ledge. Still the Green Frog lives, oblivious to all these troubles.

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