The chorus frogs have returned to the Frog Mitigation Area again this Spring. These tiny native frogs first occupied two small ponds in my backyard five years ago.
The males usually arrive by ones and twos in late February. but they didn’t show until early March this year. They set up personal spaces every foot along the ponds’ edges. When they’ve achieved critical mass of about 5 frogs, they begin croaking loudly, to attract female companionship.
The Alpha frog begins festivities with a loud AAACK. Then his minions pitch in with their own versions of the “ribbet.” Later they roll their “R’s” as a warning to keep of their turf.
In prior years, the frogs only serenaded after dark. This year they are calling all day long. too. I can observe additional behaviors. For instance, the males putt-putt around the perimeters, patrolling their area, even with their throats ballooned.
Somewhere nearby, the female frogs listen and wait for the right chorus, while they text each other “OMG did u c the throat on that 1?”
Despite their indifferent air, the females are cooperating with amplexus, wherein the smaller male mounts the female and discharges sperm onto the egg bundles she is expelling. She then swims to a nearby plant and attaches the fertilized egg sac.
The female frogs prefer to attach their eggs to the broad wapato leaves this year, more so than the long lily stems they’ve preferred in the past. Later I learned why.
The wapato leaves are unshaded, compared to the lilies, and may be a little warmer. Almost all the eggs are attached about 3-4 inches below the water line. There’s about 20 egg sacs and 400 eggs so far. That’s below peak production of 1000-1500 eggs, but still very welcome.
The current air and water temperatures are between 40-50 degrees. The frogs are very vocal during the intermittent rains.
I chat with the neighbors. They can hear the frogs for ½ mile, and enjoy them. I give the neighbors a yard tour, prepping for my next career as a docent. The frogs croak loudly throughout the neighbor’s visit.
Then the frogs performed a daytime display of amplexus like I’ve never seen. Thank goodness the neighbors had left.
First I noticed a large lean frog, with a green strip down her leg, like a seamed stocking. Next, “Ali,” a particularly energetic male frog, chugged out to meet her.
The much smaller male brown frog clung to the back of the female frog.
I’ve seen amplexus before. After a few minutes, the male’s spent, and he falls away from the female. She swims below and fastens the fertilized egg sac to a plant.
But this male would not let go of the much larger female. With a male on her back, the female kept turning, belly-up, off balance.
But once the female got hold of a nice wide wapato leaf, she could steady herself, and I watched as she emitted eggs, which he fertilized. She swam a little. He still clutched her back. She produced more eggs, and he fertilized them. And again and again.
She kept squishing out 10-20 more eggs per sac, he would fertilize her again, but would not let go of her. Finally after perhaps the fifth emission, she decided to shake her courtier.
She jumped again, and rapidly burrowed into the leaves. After a few minutes, she emerged.
Now it’s your turn.
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