Birds of Iowa


Welcome to the Birds of Iowa website. This site contains photos and information about birds I have photographed in Iowa and other places. I have also added photos of amphibians, bats, flowers, fungi, mammals, salamanders, snails, snakes and turtles.



Rana areolata, Crawfish Frog

     This frog gets its common name because of its tendency to hide in crayfish burrows. It gets its specific epithet (arealata) from the light border around each dorsal spot (areola). The large dorsal spots are numerous and there are small dark markings between them. The frog is short and fat with a blunt snout. The legs are proportionately shorter than in other ranids and in females the dorsolateral folds seem to blend into the background. In males the folds are yellow and yellow is also present on the inner surface of the legs. Iowa's other spotted ranids all have a more elongated appearance, more pointed snout and lack dark markings between the spots. Unlike species of the leopard frog complex, there is no light line on the upper lip. Crawfish frogs grow even larger than members of the Rana pipiens group attaining lengths of up to 4 1/2 inches (114 mm). The northern crawfish frog, Rana areolata circulosa, is the only
subspecies found in Iowa.

     Crawfish frogs call about mid-April in Iowa, often during rains. They make a deep pig-like snore, often interspersed with a chuckle. They utilize abandoned holes as refuges, including those made by crayfish. The tadpoles overwinter and transform in their second year. This frog was found in several places in southeastern Iowa (Appanoose, Davis, Jefferson, Van Buren and Wayne counties) in the early 1940s but we have been unable to find a single frog in recent years, even from visits to the same localities. The species is listed as endangered in Iowa.