Living the Frog Life at the Wildlife Center

This was written by HMN and Wildlife Center of Virginia (WCV) Front-Desk Coordinator Kate Guenther and published on the Wildlife Center’s website on May 8, 2015. It is reprinted here with Kate’s permission. The WCV pond was part of our Headwaters Master Naturalists’ 2013/2014 Focus Project, coordinated by Kate, to create wildlife habitat around the Wildlife Center. This article demonstrates our success!

KFtadpoles2015After we installed the pond in front of the Wildlife Center last year, new neighbors are moving in! Varieties of frogs are checking the place out, and some are definitely calling 1800 South Delphine “home.”

In recent weeks, more than 100 tadpoles have been seen sunning themselves in the warm afternoon waters of the pond’s edge. Who are the parents? It’s hard to say because a Green Frog, a Pickerel Frog, and a Gray Treefrog have all been seen in the vicinity! And, earlier this spring, director of outreach Amanda rescued an American Toad out of Maggie the Peregrine Falcon’s enclosure and relocated it to the front garden, before Maggie could claim it as a snack.

Fish and frogs in this pond are an essential component of the ecosystem for keeping the mosquito population in check and for controlling the algae that develops in the pond.

The Wildlife Center does not frequently admit amphibian patients. Since 2011, we have admitted 25 frogs and toads as patients:

Green frog in our pond.

• 10 American Toads, Anaxyrus americanus
• 4 Bullfrogs, Lithobates catesbeianus
• 8 Green Frogs, Lithobates clamitans
• 2 Gray Treefrogs, Hyla versicolor
• 1 California Treefrog, Pseudacris cadaverina

These patients have come to us for a variety of reasons, including dog and cat attacks, lawn mower encounters, entrapment in pools, and other unknown causes.

If you are interested in learning more about frogs and toads, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries puts out a wonderful booklet and CD set to help you identify frogs by sight and by their nighttime calls. Identifying frogs by their calls is easier than identifying birds calls because 1) there are far fewer species to be familiar with and 2) the calls are very unique.  Also, visual and auditory identification is available through the Virginia Herpetological Society’s website.

KFgray treefrog (3)If you have frogs in your area and want to help scientists learn more about these fascinating species, you can do citizen science volunteering through a couple of different frog programs: FrogWatch USA or the North American Amphibian Monitoring Protocol.

I started volunteering with FrogWatch this year. I have a marsh in front of my house, so I can report what I’m hearing by monitoring twice a week for five minutes. Of the 11 species that are in this part of the state, I’ve already heard four this spring!

Take your passion for nature deeper by participating in citizen science — let your inner scientist emerge!

Front-desk coordinator

american toad.400This handsome American toad was photographed by HMN Frank Deckert at the Springdale Water Gardens last May 2014. Both Frank and Springdale Water Gardens were instrumental in building the WCV pond as part of HMN’s 2013/14 Focus Project.

Photos of the HMN Wildlife Gardens at WCV in May 2015 taken by Kate and Adrie: