Hot weather is on tap for today – here’s hoping you find a cool spot! Bill shared this photo from Spirit Springs Sanctuary in Cass County in our Michigan in Pictures Group on Facebook. See more photos from his visit right here and consider sharing your own!
I had so much fun with Blackcaps: Blackberry or Black Raspberry last week that I had to try it again (spoiler alert: they were black raspberries).
What do you think, internets: is this a Northern green frog or a Michigan bullfrog? The only difference I know of between the two is that the green frog has a fold of skin from the eardrum down each side of the back.
Saturday was World Frog Day so let’s add another Michigan frog to the list, the Mink Frog (Rana septentrionalis) about which the DNR says:
A blotchy, spotted, greenish or brownish frog. Similar to Green Frog, but has spots or blotches instead of cross bands on the hind legs. Bright green upper lip and creamy to yellowish belly. Produces a musky, mink like odor when handled. Medium – 2 to 3 inches long.
HABITAT: Bogs, ponds, and lake edges. Remains close to permanent water.
BREEDING: June-July. Eggs laid on vegetation in deep water. Tadpoles may require more than one summer to become frogs.
VOICE: Likened to distant hammering; “Kuk, kuk, kuk, kuk, kuk.”
RANGE AND STATUS: Found throughout Upper Peninsula, but generally uncommon.
Click over to the Wisconsin Sea Grant to hear the Mink frog’s call.
More Michigan frogs on Michigan in Pictures.
The next installment of the critically acclaimed Michigan in Pictures exclusive “Best Friends in Nature” series. I believe what these two have in common is a long list of shared predators, so this could well be a pond-side support group meeting. ;)
Word on the pond is that Michigan’s frogs are a little put out by all the attention my readers are paying to Michigan turtles, so here’s a little payback. The DNR’s page on Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica) says:
DESCRIPTION: A brown or tan frog with a dark band (“robber’s mask”) through the eye and a white stripe on the upper lip. Small to medium – 2 to 21/2 inches long.
HABITAT: Woodlands, wooded swamps.
BREEDING: March-April, in woodland ponds and swamps often before ice is completely melted from pond. Egg masses are globular; many females may deposit in one area, often in deepest part of pond. Tadpoles will transform about 2 months later.
VOICE: A duck like “quack,” some describe it as “a lot of chuckling.”
RANGE AND STATUS: Common in moist wooded habitats state-wide.
You can hear the quacking call of the Wood Frog in this video and also learn more about wood frogs from the UM Animal Diversity Web.
More Michigan frogs on Michigan in Pictures!
April is the time when we start to hear some of Michigan’s 13 species of frogs and toads making noise. While the green frogs pictured above were confusing their Frogbook friends in July, most of the distinctive spring frog calls are males advertising that they’re looking for love. The Michigan frog & toad page from the DNR explains:
As temperatures rise in early spring, frogs begin to move to their breeding sites. The actual timing depends on the warmth of the air and water, and the humidity, but there is noticeable order in which the various Michigan species become active and begin voicing their breeding calls. For example, in southern Michigan the raspy voice of the Western Chorus Frog is usually heard first, often in late March, followed quickly by the highpitched peeps of the Spring Peeper. In a few days the woodland swamps are filled with the quack like calls of the male Wood Frogs, while in another week in open marshes the low snores of the Leopard Frog are barely heard over the squeaky songs of newly arrived Red Winged Blackbirds.
The first warm rains of April bring American Toads out of the woods to the breeding ponds, where the air is soon filled with their melodious trills. Several of our frogs postpone their breeding activities until later in spring, when air and water temperatures are higher. Included in this late group are the Gray Tree Frog, Blanchard’s Cricket Frog, and Green and Bull Frogs.
Frogs are far more often heard than seen. Most frog sounds are the advertisement calls of the males, intended to attract the females for breeding. Frog voices may carry for long distances, especially the higher pitched calls of the smaller species. The males increase the loudness of their calls by ballooning out their throats or special sacs at the sides of their throats, creating a kind of resonating chamber. Only males produce advertisement calls, but both sexes may give shorter warning calls or screams when danger threatens. Males can also produce distinct calls that warn away rival males that approach their calling or breeding sites.
Female frogs and toads may lay hundreds or even thousands of eggs. These are usually attached to underwater vegetation or left floating in large masses at the surface. During egg laying, the male clings to the female’s back and fertilizes the eggs. The small, dark eggs are protected by layers of a jelly like substance. They may be in rounded masses (as in Wood and Leopard Frogs), loose clusters (Gray Tree Frogs), long necklace like strings (Toads), thin surface films (Bull and Green Frogs), or deposited singly or in small clusters (Spring Peeper). Many frog eggs are eaten by predators such as fish, turtles, and aquatic insects, or are lost to drying or destruction by micro organisms.
Michigan has two species of Gray Treefrog – the Eastern (Hyla versicolor) and Cope’s (H. chrysoscelis) that are hard to distinguish, sometimes even sharing the same ponds. Check out the Hyla versicolor page at the UM Animal Diversity Web for a bit about that. Their color spans a range of gray, green or brown according to environment or activity. See a collection of photos showing their wide range of color at the UM Animal Diversity Web.
They can be found in woods, swamps and your own backyard. Their ability to climb vertically & horizontally is due to their specially adapted toe pads, and you’ll sometimes find them on your screen windows at night. You’ll hear their short musical trill on warm spring & summer nights.
Jamie writes that he walked 20′ into the woods off a heavily used path and ran into this little guy – small as his thumb and sitting on a milkweed. Check this out background bigtacular and see more in his Fauna slideshow.
Spring is frog season, and today’s Anishinaabemowin word of the day is Omagakii which means frog. Omagakiins means little frog and Omagakiinsag means little frogs.
Anishinaabemow.in is a very cool (though no longer updated) website that used short videos to teach words and short phrases in Anishinaabemowin. They explain that:
Anishinaabemowin is the traditional language of the Anishinaabe people. It is sometimes referred to as Ojibwe, Ojibway, Saulteaux or Indian by people in the community. Outsiders sometimes refer to it as Ojibwa or Chippewa. On this site we refer to it by the proper name in the language Anishinaabemowin.
Some facts about Anishinaabemowin
- During the Fur Trade era Anishinaabemowin was referred to as the ‘Lingua Franca’ or trade language of what is now called Canada, meaning at one time if you wanted to conduct business here you had to speak Anishinaabemowin
- At one time Guiness Book of World Records listed Anishinaabemowin as having the most complex verb structure of any language in the world, a testament to the intellectual capacity of our ancestors
- A number of English words are adopted from Anishinaabemowing including Totem (used in Freudian studies and to refer to West Coast art) which is adapted from Dodem or clan, Mocassin (leather slipper) which is adapted from Makasin or shoe and countless place names.
- Anishinaabemowin is spoken in communities from Quebec to British Columbia, From Northern Ontario to the Midwestern United States. The diffusion of speakers means that it is now spoken in places where there never were Anishinaabeg before.
- Old Anishinaabeg don’t die, they just Maazhiwe.
The Michigan DNR’s page on Northern Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) says:
The tinkling of bells is a popular description of the spring peeper’s spring mating call. Spring peepers are one of the earliest callers among the dozen frog species found in Michigan. During the first warm evenings of spring in late March or early April through May, their distinctive single note, high pitched “peep” is considered a harbinger of spring. The intensity of calling increases and can become a deafening chorus during humid evenings or just after a warm spring rain when many males congregate.
Only the male frogs call. They establish territories near the edge of permanent or ephemeral wetlands. They may call from elevated perches of submerged grass or shrubs near the water. The faster and louder a male sings, the more likely he is to attract a mate.
The female will lay between 750-1,200 eggs. The strings or clumps are attached to twigs and aquatic vegetation. Depending on the temperatures, eggs may hatch within four days or may take up to two weeks during cooler periods. After another two to three months, young tadpoles are fully transformed into young frogs and leave the pond.
They resemble their parents with the most distinctive mark being a dark brown “X” (may be irregular or incomplete on some) on their lighter brown or tan back. They begin feeding on small food items like spiders, mites, ticks, pill bugs, ants, and caterpillars. By the end of the summer, they have reached the adult size of about 1 – 1 1/2 inches. As the days cool, the peepers dig into the soft mud near ponds for the winter. Still, during warm spells into the fall they can be confused and emerge to give their spring mating call.
The spring peeper is the most abundant of Michigan’s singing frogs and is common statewide. They prefer damp woodlands, swamps, and marshes. However, they still need protection – local populations around small ponds and wetlands can be highly susceptible to surface water runoff. These waters can carry chemicals, pesticides, or silt that can kill adults, eggs, or tadpoles. Good soil erosion practices and the careful application of pesticides and fertilizers are good for spring peepers.
The most distinctive thing about peepers is their call, which can become deafening in springtime. The Pseudacris crucifer (Spring Peeper) section from UM Animal Diversity Web has a short peeper call from Livingston County, and you can see a peeper peeping in this video.
Some more peeper particulars: Wikipedia’s Spring Peeper entry notes that their calls can be heard from as far as 1 – 2.5 miles depending on the number of peepers in a pond, that peepers generally like to breed when it is closer to dusk and throughout the evening and early morning hours, and that peepers can live up to 3 years in the wild. At Portage Lake in Washtenaw County, Michigan in the 1950s, surveys in March, April, and May found that spring peepers were the most abundant animals. The page on peepers from watersheds.org notes that spring peepers produce glucose (sugar) in their livers that acts as an anti-freeze and is pumped to vital organs including the heart and lungs to allow them to freeze and thaw without developing ice crystals. Our Peeper-pedia on Absolute Michigan has a few more links and a cool video of a Michigan peeper in action.