One of our favorite summertime sounds has always been the chorus of frogs at the pond. We’ve gone to great lengths to make it a great place for frogs, and have always been rewarded for our efforts. There’s a pump to oxygeniate the water, pond plants to use a lounging pads, duck weed for shade and protection from herons, and snapping turtle relocations to make it a safe place to live.
But this spring, we had a rude awakening when we learned that our frogs are carnivorous. It never occurred to us that they were more like little alligators than unassuming, insect-eating amphibians. We should have known better, considering how big they are.
Our moment of enlightment happened when we heard one of this year’s robin fledglings letting out distress calls and realized there was a lot of commotion at the pond. We immediately suspected a snapper but didn’t make it to the pond in time to intervene. A day later, I did make it there just in time to snatch up another distressed young bird flailing its wings at the pond’s edge. As I pulled it out of the water, attached to its tail feathers, was one our our frogs. And he wasn’t letting go. I literally had to flick him in the head so that he would release his grip of the bird. He let go and fell back into the pond.
Besides being traumatized, the poor bird had also aspirated a lot of water. His lungs were so water-filled thatI knew pneumonia would set in within a matter of days. So much for retiring from wildlife rehabilitation (more on that here). I set up an indoor cage for him and started him on a week of antibiotics; he was joined by two other birds rescued from frogs that week.
One situation averted; but we still had to address our “death pond”. Don’t get me wrong, weenjoy havingour frogs and know they are only doing what comes naturally. But in making it a frog haven, we’ve also made it perilous for birds. In compromise, we added an above-pond water feature as well as a nearby bird bath so that birds could safely get a drink of water without becoming frog dinners. I’ve also begun tossing commercial fish pellets into the pond which the frogs have begun to realize as a food source.