What You Can See On May 27
Submitted by Ted Williams on Fri, 05/26/2006 - 21:05.
From Audubon’s Earth Almanac by Ted Williams and compiled in “Wild Moments,” edited by Connie Isbell, Illustrations by John Burgoyne, Storey Publishing, 174 pages. Call From the Distant Past Impoverished is the soul unstirred by the voice of the male bullfrog when first it breaks the silence of the May twilight. The deep, resonant jug-o’-rum -- felt as much as heard -- is a call from earth’s distant past, ages before the dinosaurs, when the first amphibians staggered out of Devonian seas to dominate the land for 70 million years. The bullfrog occurs naturally in the eastern and central United States. Unfortunately, it has also been unleashed in our West and other nations, where it is trashing native ecosystems. The diet of this, our largest frog, consists of insects, fish, rodents, snakes, other frogs, birds -- basically, any moving object it can stuff into its enormous mouth, often with its “hands.” Wildlife photographer John Swedberg of Millbury, Massachusetts once found a bullfrog that apparently had choked to death on an adult bluejay. Most bullfrogs are green, but a few are yellow, white, or even sky blue. Don’t look for them in vernal pools; their tadpoles take two or more years to transform and therefore need permanent water. Grab a bullfrog and it may scream as loud and long as the heroine of a 1950s horror movie.