Wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) have found their way to my little garden pond next to the front steps. There is still snow in the yard, but they are announcing spring is here. To hear their mating call, click here. They sound a bit like ducks quacking.
These little critters are about 2-3 inches long and live in wooded areas, hunting in leaf litter for prey. They are so well camouflaged that one only sees them when they jump, making a fast getaway. They overwinter under the leaf litter and curiously, can freeze completely, even enduring repeated thaw and freeze cycles. Wood frogs only come to water, usually vernal pools, to breed. Frogs prefer vernal pools (which are ephemeral, lasting only a month or two), for breeding because they lack fish, which will prey upon eggs and tadpoles. I’ve come to the conclusion that they are a delicacy because everything eats them, including other amphibians.
We cover the pond over winter to prevent it from filling with leaves and debris. On Saturday morning my spouse uncovered it and it had a 2″ layer of ice covering it. Sunday I raked the garden bed surrounding the pond and was startled to uncover one of these little frogs – yikes! The ice was melting pretty fast, but seeing that we already had a tenant waiting to take up residency, I removed the rest of the ice with a rake and scooped out what leaves that had found their way in under the cover. The pond always smells a bit off at first, but the sun takes care of it after a few days.
It only took two days to attract four frogs and more will come. The spring peepers will be next. My favorite, they are are only 1 inch long and cling to the shrubbery around the pond. They drive my spouse crazy since they incessantly “peep-peep-peep” all night long into June, especially if it rains! We will eventually also get green frogs that find their way up from the river. It’s quite a party out there some nights – all in this tiny 3 x 4 foot pond!
To learn more about wood frogs and their life cycle, click here.
This is so wonderful:) I had tadpoles when I was a child. These are adorable. I hope you have many “guests,” all spring and summer long.
Eliza, how exciting!
Thanks for the info on this new frog I didn’t know. The “vernal” ponds sounds like it’s risky for them, yet it’s to avoid predators. Nature is amazing to provide just a little pond for the reproduction of this species!
It is a great adaptation isn’t it? It is a race to complete the tadpole cycle before the pond dries up. But no matter what, the odds are stacked against them. I don’t know what exactly the stats are but out of hundreds of eggs, only a handful reach reproductive maturity. It’s a jungle out there!
What charming little creatures! And what fun to uncover your pond and voila – life appears.
I hope you do another post when the “peepers” appear.
Great post, Eliza. Love it! 🙂 🙂
Thanks, Sharon, I will.
I see four frogs! They are adorable + I enjoyed hearing them on the audio. They have an interesting chatter:-) I found a crocus blooming!!!
Thanks. Yay on the crocus! I love every new thing that pops up! I plant spring bulbs where the snow first melts, so I get them as early as possible. I have a ‘bulb show’ going in my yard from late March/April to June. It keeps me going until the perennials and annuals kick in.
I was going to ask where they go in the winter, but you anticipated my question. How bizarre, how wonderful! I can’t wait to see the next batch of amphibians.
Love those cute little frogs! What camera do you use?
Thanks, I use a Canon Rebel XS.
Yea, they are a real nuisance during the rainy season here… but ecologically very useful creatures 🙂
Your comment made me laugh! Tropical frogs can be a ‘nuisance’ I suppose. I remember being in the Caribbean, driving at night in a downpour and there were hundreds of HUGE frogs jumping all over the road – I couldn’t look (I wasn’t driving obviously!). 🙂 They were mountain chicken frogs, which I read are now endangered. Human consumption (hence the name), habitat loss and a fungus have resulted in 80% decline. Amphibians are having a tough go of it on this planet, to name only one of many. Are there similar threatened species in India?
Yea, same reasons, here too. They are the health indicators of an eco system I heard.
But still we could see plenty of them, even inside my home 🙂
Glad to know our ecosystems are healthy! 🙂
I love that you included the audio. We’re hearing spring peepers around here.
I love peepers!
I love all these little amphibians! Last week I noticed something dark moving in the snow. It was a big, fat toad crawling up & out of about 6″ of snow! In spite of the frozen world, the spring light had reached him (or her), triggering that age-old response….get up & out there to mate! He hopped onto a sunny, bare patch of ground & promptly buried himself in to warm up. Very fascinating these creatures!
So awesome, thanks for sharing this! I love witnessing nature doing its thing. It is so reassuring, all this rebirth!
Oh how wonderful to have these frogs and more to look forward too soon. The Peepers are favorites of mine, I do love hearing them.. Thanks for sharing.
It is obvious that you have created a healthy habitat for numerous critters and they all bring you joy, especially this time of year. This is a good thing! 🙂
After a long, cold winter of walking my dog in the woods, we finally heard this beautiful sound last week. There was quite a chorus coming from a vernal pond cause by our recent heavy rains.
Now if I could only attract them to my pond like you did…
Isn’t it just heart-lifting to hear them?
Re: your pond…I often joke: “If you build it, they will come.” 🙂 In my experience, while it can take many years, once an animal finds a place and are successful feeding and breeding, they will come every year. You build a colony if you have good habitat for them, which is as simple as learning what food, shelter, material needs, etc. of the species you want to attract, be it bird, frog or insect. Once we put a small circulating fountain in the pond, the sound of splashing water attracted them faster. It is not legal in most states to transfer or “own” wildlife without a permit to do so, but some states offer free species of natives, often plants, but sometimes restocking of wildlife. That would jump start the process, otherwise you hope they can find your little wetland habitat. The more we do for wildlife in our yards, the better! Thanks for stopping by.
That is so cool. And they seem comfortable with you taking their pictures. 🙂
Believe me, I had to slowly, stealthily approach them, total slow-mo! Generally, as soon as we walk by, they flee to the bottom, where they can stay for minutes. I love having these wild critters living right outside my door. Their calls are music to my ears (they’re singing away like crazy as I type this :-)), announcing life and rebirth after dormancy. Good for the soul. 🙂
I can relate. I live in a condo with woods right behind me. Aside from the usual wildlife songs, I get to see deer (and other smaller wild animals) all the time. They’ll even come up to my deck. The kicker is that I live right in the city. How those deer get into this woods, crossing busy streets, is amazing.
The only unfortunate thing about these woods is that I think it’s the crows’ breeding grounds for all of southern Maine. I’m talking about thousands of crows, and I think they like to start around 4am each morning.
Ouch, rise and shine! You must be near one of those legendary roosting sites! As wonderful as living near our wild neighbors is, we have to take the bad with the good sometimes, lol. Juvenile crows, when they are learning to feed, follow their parents and have a very nasal, incessant ‘caw-caw-caw’ that for a few weeks each summer threatens my sanity. Earplugs, anyone? 🙂
I love the symbolism of frogs! I have little frog totems all over our house. (Much to my stepson’s delight 🙂 )
Yes, the Vernal Ponds are sweet. The Toads also get into the act, and make a high pitch whistle sound. Finally, the Tree Frogs, which seem to hang around well into the summer. They sound like one of the giant ants from the creepy Sci Fi classic, “THEM” 🙂
Lots of wildlife use ephemeral pools – I’ve always loved exploring them ever since I was a kid. Thanks for coming by and commenting!
I love frogs and so enjoy your delightful shares about them. Their calls take me right back to my childhood when we lived by a big field with a pond filled with frogs. Loved it. Thank heavens they produce so many eggs and tadpoles that the predators can’t eat every last one! Good luck with your pond adventures Eliza. Cheers, Gina