Red-legged frog floating at edge of pondThe water level in our pond is going down rapidly as summer approaches, but so far there’s still enough to support a healthy colony of northern red-legged frogs (Rana aurora).

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been seeing these reclusive amphibians all around the banks of the pond, wherever a patch of sunshine can be found. But it requires some serious searching. Even though the adults can be up to 3 inches long, they’re hard to spot, as they blend in so well with the vegetation.

Frog partly hidden among grasses

They’re understandably skittish – after all, they’re a popular food for some birds, mammals and snakes. Their powerful back legs (which are red on the undersides) are great for jumping and for kicking their way quickly to the pond’s muddy bottom, where they can hide from dangers (including pesky human observers).

Red-legged frog among grasses

Red-legged frogs need the still waters of ponds or marshes to breed. Once that deed is done, the adults can enjoy the sunshine on the banks or leave the pond if they prefer. But it’s a different story for their young, who hatch about 40 days later. These tadpoles must then remain immersed for another 80 days as they grow their legs and morph into frogs. That means that unless breeding has occurred earlier than usual, they need water in the pond through most of June.

Our pond usually dwindles to a small puddle by early July, so it’s always a close call for the tadpoles. These days, as climate change brings drier springs and summers to our region, it’s more than ever a race against time for the new generation. Fingers crossed.

You can click on the photos to enlarge them and see the details – click twice if you’d like to see them extra large!

About Laurie MacBride, Eye on Environment

Photographer and writer focusing on nature and the environment

8 responses »

  1. Sherry Galey says:

    You bring the threats of climate change home with this post — and paint a picture of its impact that we can all understand. Your images are of the frogs are fantastic, Laurie!

  2. dianeschuller.com says:

    gosh that truly does sound dire. All the years we lived on the farm, I was always acutely aware of how critters of all species are so reliant on their environment and the weather.

    • Too true! The good news is that there’s still some water in our pond, and lots of tadpoles. Not sure how it’ll look a week or two from now…but let’s hope. Thanks for commenting, Diane (and sorry to be so slow to respond – I’m way behind in everything, especially the blog!).

  3. Fred Bailey says:

    Laurie:
    Your photos are amazing as ever. WOW!

  4. skadhu says:

    Our pond went down so fast last year that I doubt the frogs had time to morph and make it out; we didn’t see any tiny ones, at any rate. This year doesn’t look good for them either. Praying for rain for them—and it wouldn’t hurt our cistern, either.

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