Bullfrogs live in freshwater ponds, lakes, and marshes. The male bullfrog’s call is deep and loud. Some people think it sounds like a cow mooing, which is why the frog has “bull” in its name. Walking through a marsh or near a pond, you might hear a whole chorus of these calls as male bullfrogs let other bullfrogs identify their territory. Bullfrogs like warm weather. When it turns cold, they dig down into the mud to hibernate. They live 5 to 7 years.
Bullfrogs eat all kinds of insects, mice, snakes, fish, and other small creatures. They hunt at night, waiting patiently until they see something pass by that they figure would make a good meal. Then, with a powerful leap, they lunge at their prey with their mouths wide open. Gulp!
Spring peepers are small tree frogs. Their bodies have smooth skin in shades of tan, brown, green, or gray, with lines that form an X-shaped pattern on their backs. Their bellies are white to cream-colored, and they have dark bands on their legs and a dark line between their eyes. They are generally about one inch (2.5) centimeters) in length, or about the length of a paper clip, and their weight averages from o.11 to 0.18 ounces (3 to 5 grams).
Although they are good climbers, they spend most of their time on the ground, often hiding under leaf litter during the day. Adult spring peepers come out to feed in the late afternoon and early evening, while subadults feed in the early morning to late afternoon. They generally eat beetles, ants, flies, and spiders. Tadpoles feed on algae and microorganisms.
Canada geese usually graze together in fields, eating grasses, sedges, grains, and berries. Their bills have serrated edges, which helps them cut tough grass stems.
Canada geese also feast on aquatic vegetation. Male geese fight one another to win a particular female. The pair may stay together for life. The female makes her nest of dry grasses, twigs, and other plant material near the water. The baby geese, called goslings, take about a month to hatch. They leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching. They can swim right away and learn to fly within two months.
Great egrets are tall, long-legged wading birds with long, S-curved necks, and long, dagger-like bills. In flight, the long neck is tucked in and the legs extend far beyond the tip of the short tail. They eat fish, frogs, and other small aquatic animals. Their flight speed is around 25 miles per hour. The great egret is protected under federal law.
Killdeer have the large, round head, large eye, and the short bill of all plovers. They are especially slender and lanky, with a long, pointed tail and long wings. When disturbed, they break into flight and circle overhead, calling repeatedly. Their flight is rapid, with stiff, intermittent wingbeats.
Killdeer spend their time walking along the ground or running ahead a few steps, stopping to look around, and running on again. They build their nests on the ground. Killdeer chicks hatch with a full coat of feathers and a single black breast band. They can walk out of their nest as soon as their feathers dry. They feed primarily on invertebrates, such as earthworms, snails, crayfish, grasshoppers, and aquatic insect larvae.
Mallard ducks are the most common and recognizable wild ducks in the Northern Hemisphere. They feed on plants, invertebrates, fish, and insects. Mallards also forage and graze for food on land.
The mallard duck's outer feathers are waterproof, thanks to oil that’s secreted from a gland near the tail. Beneath this tightly packed waterproof layer of feathers lies a soft, warm layer of feathers called down. Twice a year, mallards molt, or shed, their flight feathers, temporarily grounding the birds for several weeks until the feathers grow back.
The Purple Martin, North America's largest swallow, is a swift and skilled flyer. The birds eat, drink, and even bathe on the wing. The species is part of a group of birds known as aerial insectivores—birds that feed on airborne insects. These birds have all shown steep population declines in the past few decades.
Unlike many native birds, the Purple Martin thrives in close proximity to humans. This relationship dates back to the Native Americans, who hung empty gourds for Purple Martin nests. Purple Martins exhibit a very high level of site fidelity. Once they have bred successfully at a specific location, the same individuals return year after year.
Red-winged blackbirds are one of the most abundant birds across North America. They are likely to be one of the most common birds you see and hear near standing water and vegetation. They feed on mainly insects in the summer and corn and wheat in the winter. Sometimes they feed by probing at the bases of aquatic plants with their slender bills trying to get at the insects hidden inside. They symbolize good luck, protection, prosperity, and guardian angels looking over you.
The Wood Duck is a colorful, North American waterfowl. Males are iridescent chestnut and green, with ornate patterns on nearly every feather; the elegant females have a distinctive profile and delicate white pattern around the eye. These birds live in wooded swamps, where they nest in holes in trees or in nest boxes put up around lake margins. They are one of the few duck species equipped with strong claws that can grip bark and perch on branches. Their diet consists mainly of plants.
The bluegill is a colorful sunfish with an olive green, saucer-shaped body. It lives in lakes, ponds, streams and other freshwater bodies throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Bluegill usually grow 4 to 6 inches in length, but can grow to 12 inches long.
The bluegill eats a variety of small organisms, including insects, crayfish and bits of vegetation. They feed primarily from dawn to dusk.
Painted turtles occur in all manner of aquatic habitats that have permanent water. The preferred habitat has aquatic vegetation, soft substrate, and basking sites. They are the most common basking turtle seen in Virginia. This omnivorous turtle feeds only under water on aquatic plants, aquatic insects, crayfish, snails, small fish, tadpoles, mussels, and carrion.
Much of their time is spent concealed in submerged vegetation. The turtles spend the winter hibernating in mud or decayed vegetation on pond bottoms, emerging earlier than other turtles, typically in March. The average life span of a painted turtle is 20 to 30 years old.
For more information:
* National Geographic Kids
* Cornell University Ornithology Lab