Frog Songs at Island Lakes

by Charlene Simpson

“Crit-bit,” “Bit,” “Rivit” and “Rum, Rum, Jug-o-Rum, Jug-o-Rum.” We humans attempt to replicate the sounds frogs make. Those of us who live at Island Lakes hear their songs. Those who are acquainted with me know I like to study nature.

Pacific Tree Frog (Pseudacris regilla)

Pacific tree frogs, also known as Pacific chorus frogs, visit the hanging geranium and fuchsia planters at the front entrance to my condo. I hear them, lamenting if I can’t find them and cheering when they appear. Did the little guys I see this year winter over? Or are they the progeny of frogs that visited me the year before?

My name is Merle (image courtesy Sam Roderick Roxas-Chua)
My name is Merle (image courtesy Sam Roderick Roxas-Chua)

This is Merle.

One day I found Merle with a friend. I don’t know how to tell gender, but research tells me males are smaller than females. Adults are about 1.25 to 1.3 inches long.

Merle and friend
Merle and friend

Pacific tree frogs are the most beloved frog in the Pacific Northwest. They come in brown, gray, tan, and other earth tones as well as green. They can darken or lighten in a few minutes. Their skin is covered with small bumps. All have a dark stripe at the side of the face.

I have wondered how the little frogs get into my planters, some of which hang higher than my head. They have long legs compared to their bodies which give them utmost jumping range. And they can scramble up vertical surfaces with the aid of sticky toe pads. The tree frogs that visit my front porch area prefer the planter that hangs next to the night light. Hoards of small insects are attracted to the light providing the frogs a virtual dining buffet. They efficiently zap the insects with a projectile tongue.

During the day Pacific tree frogs seek cover. This fellow seeks the cool shade of a lily flower while he lies in wait to ambush an insect visitor. The frog takes on the hue and spots of the lily as camouflage.

Tree frog in Donna Parker’s lily (image courtesy Edie Hise)
Tree frog in Donna Parker’s lily (image courtesy Edie Hise)

American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)

In summer I open my bedroom window to bring in cool night breezes, but the bellowing bull frogs interrupt my sleep. I close my window and suffer the heat.

Some years male bullfrogs keep up a pulsating bellow reminiscent of the roar of a bull. This is the way males announce their territory during breeding season.

Bullfrog in middle lake
Bullfrog in middle lake

The American bullfrog is the largest frog in the United States, weighing up to one pound. It was introduced to the Western US for its edible legs and as an aquarium pet.

American bullfrogs eat just about any animal they can overcome and can fit in their mouths. They lie in wait along the water’s edge for prey to pass by. Then they pounce with mouth wide open propelled by powerful hind legs. They eat only live food and they’re cannibalistic (Miller, 2008). American bullfrogs are considered invasive in our area where they are blamed for the decline of native frogs, snakes and amphibians (Wiedemer and Chan, 2008).

 

Big Daddy or Big Mama?
Big Daddy or Big Mama?

In August 2010 workers removed aquatic weeds and skimmed algae from our lakes. Those of you with lake views witnessed the scene. Rakes are thrown in and dragged toward shore bringing weeds and algae on shore for disposal. One rake full captured a very large bull frog. I named him “Big Daddy.” Or is this individual “Big Mama?” Males are smaller than females. What’s your guess?

If you were a maiden looking for prince charming would you kiss this frog?

References:

Wiedemer, Scott and Samuel Chan. 2008. On the Lookout for Aquatic Invaders: Identification Guide for the Pacific Northwest. Oregon Sea Grant. Oregon State University. Corvallis, OR.

Mapleton Schools and Siuslaw Watershed Council. 2008. The American Bullfrog. 

Miller, Henry. Jan. 13, 2008. “Bullfrogs devouring Oregon’s native amphibians.” Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon.

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