Wood Frogs, food for two of the neighborhood hawk species, Red-tailed and Red-shouldered, and Barred Owls,
have been calling from the shallows of our backyard pond for the past few nights. Their voices are described by the Minnesota DNR as a “short chuckle, a harsh racket, racket, racket.” The call has been described as resembling the feeding call of a Mallard. It does have a duck-like quality.
This is early for Wood Frogs, even though they will begin mating calls before all of the ice is gone. This often is the first frog species to begin calling in the spring.
The frogs, two to three inches long, are brown, with a dark patch that extends over the eyes like a mask.
There are both males and females out there (otherwise, why call, right?). The DNR says that the only way a male can tell he’s found a fertile female with eggs to lay is to give it a hug. If the frog he clasps is thin, it’s either another male or a female that has already laid its blob of from 1,000 to 3,000 eggs.
I took pictures last spring of the frenzy that defines mating. Frogs were chasing and clasping left and right. Some of the action is below. The bulges on one of the frogs are the air sacs it uses in calling. Take a deep breath ….. and find someone to hug.