Frogs are among the bell weather species. After years of working with biologists, I know that frogs in ecosystems, or the lack of them, are a sign of the health of that collection of plants and animals that depend on each other for survival.
If just the number of frogs in one area is any indication, my little corner of the world is very healthy. I have a lot of frogs living in my one-acre limestone hillside, especially around two small ponds I built to fill in holes that once held driveway concrete.
One morning, as I was heading out for a walk, I spotted the showdown between one of my green frogs and the newest addition to "Froggie Bottom," what I call the pond area in memory of one of the metro stops where I used to work in Washington D.C.
The ceramic frog had sat at a garden center for years. Finally marked down on sale, I brought it home to keep my other ceramic frog company in the pond area, not giving any thought to how the real frogs would react to the new arrival.
As I rounded the corner, it appeared there was a stare off between the ceramic frog and my resident green frog.
Green frogs, Lithobates clamitans, look similar to a bullfrog but are smaller and have a ridge of skin along the sides of the backs, from behind the eyes to midbodies. Also according to Missouri's Department of Conservation, green frogs may vary from green to greenish tan to brown, with the upper lip and head usually green. There may be faint dark spots on the back, and the legs usually have indistinct dark spots or bars.
Adult males have a bright yellow throat. The call is an explosive “bong” that sounds like a loose banjo string.
There are two subspecies of green frogs in Missouri. Northern green frog (L. clamitans melanota), described above, and bronze frog (L. clamitans clamatans), a smaller, brownish or bronze frog with yellow lip and head, which is restricted to the southeastern part of the state.
Well, the ceramic frog is still holding her ground.