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 utricularia, Southern Leopard Frog

       Southern leopard frogs appear to be more similar to northern than to plains leopard frogs. They have an even more pointed head than northern leopard frogs and the background color of Iowa specimens tends to be more green than the gray typical of plains leopard frogs. Like plains leopard frogs, they have a white spot in the center of the tympanum but the dorsolateral folds are unbroken. Unlike either they have only a few dark spots on the sides, a few elongated ones between the folds and there is a light line on the upper jaw. Additionally, there is usually no dark spot on the snout. The overall size is about the same, with large adults reaching lengths of 3 1/2 inches (89mm). To separate southern leopard frogs, look for the reduced number of spots, the absence of light borders, the prominent white line on the upper lip and unbroken dorsolateral folds. The squatty shape along with intense markings between the spots separate crawfish frogs and paired dorsal blotches and bright yellow thighs distinguish pickerel frogs.

The call of southern leopard frogs has been described as a chuckle-like guttural trill. As with the others in the Rana pipens complex, ones needs to compare recordings to tell the difference between the calls. Southern leopard frogs are found only in southeastern Iowa, and extend northward along the Mississippi River as far as Muscatine. Plains leopard frogs however, dominate most of the same area and one county westward, plains leopard frogs take over completely.