Green Frogs Galore
June's the month to hear their song.
by Bob & Jorja Feldman
From the June, 2017 issue
Years ago, Bob came home at lunchtime to find the bathtub filled with frogs. To the dismay of the frog collector, our five-year-old son, we donned gloves and carefully bucketed up the frogs and returned them to their natural habitat. Please advise your child that a state fishing license is required for taking frogs.
Ann Arbor prohibits hunting, trapping, or attempting to trap any animal in a park, but you can admire them. Ann Arbor city herpetologist Patrick Terry says June is a great month to look for green frogs, the most common local species that's active during the day. By June the males are calling, hoping to attract mates.
The serenading song of the green frog has been described as a twang or chung sound like those made by a guitar string. You can hear a sample on the DNR's website at goo.gl/RQ9Nfw.
While green frogs make several different sounds, it's the twang they're known for. If the sound you hear is more of a deeper bellow than a twang, chances are you are listening to a bullfrog (the DNR website has a sample of that, too). Though green frogs are active during the day, Terry says you're more likely to hear them singing after dark.
Confusingly, both the bullfrog and the green frog may be green in color--and some green frogs may be olive or brown or some combination of these colors and green. Size may be the quickest way to distinguish the species, because bullfrogs can get much larger. If you're unsure about a smaller frog, check whether there is a ridge down the back--a "dorsal lateral fold." Green frogs have them, bullfrogs do not.
Green frogs hang out around the edges of ponds and lakes or squat on rocks or logs in the water when they are not swimming. Rush up to a potential frog habitat and your sole reward may be the soft plopping sound of frogs entering the water. If you want to
look before they leap, approach gently and quietly.
The good-looking green frog in our photo sat for us on its rock in a small pond in the children's garden at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Though we'd positioned ourselves at the very edge of the pond, it posed patiently, probably because it was surrounded by water--its safety net--and was used to human admirers. Over the years we have seen many frogs at this little pond.
Terry calls the green frog a "habitat generalist" and suggests looking and listening for them at any healthy pond, stream, or lake. His personal favorite spot is Black Pond Woods Nature Area. Leslie Science and Nature Center has access to that woods and parking as well. Terry suggests looking for frogs in the water from a small bridge along the path. There's a map on Leslie's website at goo.gl/1wWsBs.
[Originally published in June, 2017.]
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