Get To Know Your Frog Songs

To experience one of the wonders of spring, listen to the melodious strains of a frog orchestra, courtesy of the frogs of Ontario performing at a wetland near you. To appreciate these nocturnal songs, walk to a nearby wet area – a marsh, swamp or bog – just as the sun is starting to set. Take your two hands, cup them behind your ears and press your fingers together. You’ve just amplified your hearing by 10 times! Now stop and soak up the sounds of spring as they seep into your extended ears. Listen for the high, melodious peep of the Spring Peeper. Or the trilling bursts of sound from the Chorus Frog. Later on, see if you can identify the low “garomph” of the Bull Frog or the banjo-like strumming call of the Green Frog and the throaty croak of the Leopard Frog. To learn to identify your frog songs, go to www.frogwatch.ca 

Frogs are “bio-indicators.” Because their skin is sensitive to pollutants, any time you hear a wetland filled with the songs of frogs, you know that the water quality is probably quite good. If you ever wondered what frogs are singing about, well, roughly translated, here is what they are saying: “Hey, if you are a girl frog of my species…come on over. If you are another male, just BACK OFF!”  It is the male frogs who sing for the same reason that birds do, to attract a mate and to protect their territory.

TYPE OF FROG •• SOUND •• WHEN THEY CALL

Spring peeper •• High peep peep sound •• Early Spring
American bullfrog •• Deep, resonant “rr-uum” or “jug-o-rum” •• Late Spring – early summer
Wood frog •• Sounds like a quaking duck •• Early Spring
Green frog •• “gulp, gulp” deep from the throat •• Late Spring – early summer
Leopard frog •• A throaty ahhhhhhhhhh •• Early Spring
Chorus frog •• Short bursts of trills made with your lips or tongue •• Mid- to late Spring
Eastern cricket frog •• Use your tongue to make “click-click-click” like sounds. Reminiscent of pebbles clicked together; cricket-like •• Late Spring – early summer
Gray tree frog •• Slow musical bird like trill lasting 2 to 3 seconds. Use your lips or tongue •• Late Spring – early summer
American toad •• A sustained trill from lips or throat •• Early to late spring

By Jacob Rodenburg