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 blairi, Plains Leopard Frog

Plains leopard frogs have a blunt snout and a stubby appearance (although less so than that of toads). The background color is more gray than green, especially on the back. The dorsal spots are round, not elongated, and the dorsolateral folds are broken and inset opposite the thighs. If these features seem inconclusive, dissection of males reveals no vestigal oviducts, small tubular structures that lie next to the kidneys of northern leopard frogs.

Plains leopard frogs sometimes have pale yellow on the inside of the thighs, unlike the northern and southern leopard frogs which are which, or the pickerel frog which is bright yellow. Plains leopard frogs grow to 3 1/2 inches (89mm). Northern leopard frogs are distinctly green and both they and southern leopard frogs have longer snouts and elongated spots between unbroken dorsolateral folds. Pickerel fr/span>ogs have paired, square dorsal blotches and crawfish frogs are even more stubby than plains leopard frogs with many markings between the spots.

 To distinguish the calls of the different members of the Rana pipiens complex requires an expert or another leopard frog. The call of the plains leopard frog has been described as more of a chuckle but the northern leopard frog often produces a similar sound. Plains leopard frogs are found in the southern one third of Iowa. A few ponds support populations of both species, a usual sign of recent expansion in the range of one of the species. This situation can also occur when the pond is new and has been colonized by both species without enough elapsed time to permit one to out-compete the other.