Frogs or birds? The choice was easy

Garden pond by Bruce Stambaugh
By Bruce Stambaugh

Well it happened. I finally had to remove the giant green frogs from my little garden pond. The reason? I found another dead songbird by the pond. The perpetrator left the evidence in plain sight and never bothered to leave the scene.

After what had happened this summer, I had no choice in the matter.

In July amid the hottest, driest weather of the summer, the grandchildren were here visiting from Virginia. They always ask to feed the goldfish in our garden pond.

Girl on grindstone by Bruce Stambaugh

As we approached the pond with fish food in hand, I spotted something rather suspicious. The largest of the green frogs that inhabit our pond was resting atop a balled up, wet and obviously dead House Finch on the rock pile near the little waterfalls.

The frog must have felt guilty because it jumped into the pond as soon as it spotted us. I let the kids feed the always-hungry fish while I investigated the crime scene. Of course, Davis, the inquisitive six-year old, wanted to see what I was looking at, too.

Cooling off by Bruce StambaughOnce I realized we had a killer frog on our hands, I diverted the kids’ attention by playing ball in the side yard. When I went to get the dead bird, it was gone. Had the frog come back for its dinner?

A few weeks later, I found a second House Finch floating in the pond. I contacted a naturalist friend about my discovery. She had heard of bullfrogs catching birds, but not green frogs. Either way, her conclusion was the same as mine. The big green frog was trouble.

Since the grandkids loved looking for the frogs as much as they did feeding the fish, I hated to transplant the amphibian. I decided to keep a close eye out for more evidence. I found it on September 25.

Bird and frog by Bruce Stambaugh

The dead American Goldfinch told me I needed to remove the largest frogs from the pond.

This time I discovered an American Goldfinch left on the sandstone grindstone where the grandkids stand to feed the fish. Just like the others, the Goldfinch had clearly been drowned with evidence of attempts to swallow it. Just inches away, minding its own business, the green frog sat unsympathetically on a soft patch of grass. At least I thought it was a green frog.

That was the last straw. I watched for an opportunity to catch the two largest green frogs and relocate them to a neighbor’s farm pond. I caught the docile female right away. The bigger male was a bit trickier. You know how men are.

Finally, I saw my opportunity. The wily frog was hiding beneath the floppy leaves of one of the hosta plants that border the pond. In a sneak attack, I captured the frog and quickly placed it in the minnow bucket with the other frog.

Mute Swan by Bruce Stambaugh

As I prepared to release the pair of frogs at my neighbor’s pond, a rather large Mute Swan swam straight for me, hissing all the way. The larger of the two frogs was more than happy to hide in shallow water. The female was content to enjoy the grassy shoreline.

I didn’t bother to say my farewells. I was patient catching the frogs. The agitated swan was another story. I didn’t want to painfully pay for my efforts with a nip by the aggressive and territorial waterfowl.

If this greedy green frog attempts to swallow one of these big birds, I think it will be in for an enormous surprise. And I think I’ll write a book.

Upon further investigation, others more knowledgable on frogs than me identified the culprit that I had photographed as a bullfrog, not a green frog. My mystery was solved, and my frog facts greatly improved. The book’s plot just took a turn.

This column appeared in The Bargain Hunter, Millersburg, OH.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2012

2 Comments

Filed under birding, column, Ohio, photography, writing

2 responses to “Frogs or birds? The choice was easy

  1. Vicki

    this is very interesting. I’m surprised that the frog did not eat your fish.. we had a bullfrog tadpole for a time this past summer, no fish in our pond, but it ate half my pond plants over night so we took it back to the lake where we got it.. thankfully it did not grow up to kill any of the birds that visit to bath and drink.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s