WHILE A BALD EAGLE CIRCLED OVERHEAD one sunny day last week, this guy let me sit beside him on the still-cold grass and visit awhile. Say hello to a wood frog, one of the earliest species to be out and hopping about, and dressed in garden-appropriate terra cotta, no less. Sometimes I don’t know how I got from where I was to here, but am I ever thankful. Learn more about the wood frog, Rana sylvatica, and our impromptu chat:
I’ve never actually seen a wood frog of this size (about 2-1/2 inches long) or coloration (they range from tans and browns to rusty like this and apparently also grays and greens), and couldn’t even key him out at first because of his near-coppery colored skin. None of the specimens pictured in my many amphibian books showed this hue. And then I got it: the mask, the black mask. The wood frog is referred to as wearing a robber’s mask, and in fact the vivid black marking extends from his typanum (the stretched membrane he hears with) right down and onto his front legs.
I say “he” because the frog was on the move, not near a watery breeding area, perhaps in pursuit of that special someone as the very cold-tolerant wood frogs are inclined to be even in March. I also say it because he was so brightly colored. Females, though typically larger than males, tend to be less vivid, I quickly learned from my favorite zoology site. I didn’t ask if I could pick him up and look on the undersides of those thighs of his, which would have sealed it: if they’re extra-colorful, it’s a guy, apparently. I just had that feeling, and I know a thing or two about frogboys.
We sat together for a good 15 minutes, during which time he was motionless. And then it was me, not the frog, who moved on. Off to plant the peas I went, and my new friend perhaps to look for the one for him.