Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wren's Prince


It has always been our motto around here. Ever since Wren was a baby we have always played up the old folklore of kissing frogs and magically appearing Princes. When we left Florida, I had assumed our frog seeing days were somewhat over. There's toads in the gardens and bullfrogs aplenty in the ponds, but the smallish little green variety I thought was rare. The first time I spotted a little green, my immediate thought was that it somehow smuggled its way from Naples in one of our deck chairs or tables. But a quick search here-
http://www.ohioamphibians.com/frogs/frogspecies.html gave me some relief. I hadn't single handedly introduced the dreaded Cuban Treefrog into Ohio. Although I am sure someone has!

The species we often see, I believe, is Cope's Gray Treefrog or the basic Gray Treefrog (nearly identical except for differences at the cellular level). Our little guys are more green than gray, however. If we listen carefully, we can hear them peeping on the back porch at nightfall.

It is difficult around here to move near a flower patch and not turn up a toad. We have spotted both the Eastern American and Fowler's Toad. Both species appear to be very well fed here in our gardens and we welcome them wholeheartedly. They do not seem appreciative of our toad houses of terra cotta, but we put them out each Spring none the less. The Northern Leopard Frog appears on the water banks in such great numbers that it is a wonder anything else in the frog family can sustain itself around here! A casual stroll down the line of the ponds produces a regular Plop!... Plop!... Plop! ...the whole way down. You are then met with curious large eyes just visible above the surface line of the water. The abundance of toads and frogs at Hawk's Run is another true testament to the land's ability in southern Ohio to host a range of wildlife that elsewhere is becoming very scarce. It was not unusual in Florida to see amphibians with birth defects, a growing problem in many areas of our country due to pollution. I have yet to see that once here in Ohio.
For more on our hoppity friends, one of our favorites books is Toad by the Road A Year in the Life of These Amazing Amphibians by Joanne Ryder and Maggie Kneen.
Beautifully illustrated and full of short poems and factual tidbits, like the bewildering story of a toad who eats his own skin...yes, all toads do! That is why we never see one lying about once a toad sheds its skin for growth, and it is the basis for the old folklore.

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