The Wilder Side of Oakland County is almost everywhere—if you are a frog!
Frogs are found in misty swamps, big puddles, shallow lakes and sometimes in these humid days at the dawn of summer— high up on tree limbs. There are approximately 90 species of frogs in the United States. The most seen species this time of year in Oakland County are the green frog, bullfrog and gray treefrog. Frogs are much loved by great blue herons, snapping turtles, raccoons and Ryan. The first three species eat them. Ryan does not. He appreciates them.
I encountered Ryan staring motionlessly down into a small stoned-lined garden pool outside the Wint Nature Center at Independence Oaks County Park. One of the most common frogs of Oakland County, a green frog started back at him. I nudged Ryan for the answer to why he was enchanted by a single frog waiting in its ambush position for a bug to come too close. His response, “I love frogs because of their exotic shapes, colors and sizes and the uniqueness of this animal.” And then, “I like their eyes.”
The green frog is the second largest frog in our county. Their throaty call, sounding a bit like a loose banjo string being plucked, often gives away their camouflaged location. Green frogs have large bulging eyes that give them a wide angle vision and the ability to sit very still and wait for dinner to wiggle, crawl or swim by.
Gray treefrog hide in plain sight on humid days and have the ability to change color from shades of green to a brownish gray—something they do to match their surroundings. Their loud trilling call is often heard before a summer storm. The tiny suction cup-like toe pads make tree climbing easy and they will even climb windows at night to feed on bugs attracted to the light.
The resonating call of the largest frog of Oakland County, the American bullfrog is unmistakable. The males’ trademark “jug-o-rum” bellow is a common sound in rural areas of northern Oakland County of this frog that can weigh 1.5 pounds. They are skilled ambush-hunters and eat almost anything they can get their mouth around including other frogs, snakes and small birds that frequent wetlands.
Text and photos by Jonathan Schechter, Oakland County Parks Nature Education Writer. www.DestinationOakland.com