Singing Frogs and Trilling Toads


It’s the end of May and it doesn’t look like we will be getting any late season frosts this year. The last couple of years the end of May had been very cool; some nights in early June the temperature dipped below freezing.

When the spring is a cold one, the pond in front of our house is much quieter than during a warm spring, as some of the frogs and toads really don’t like the cold. Wood frogs, the first to sing in our area, sound like they are saying its “c-c-c-c-o-o-o-o-l-l-l-d-d-d-d”.  And it usually is when they start singing. One can count on hearing wood frogs.

But as I said, it has not been a cold spring (kind of cool and dry, although there have been some warm days and some timely rains). As a result, all the species of frogs and toads normally found in our pond have been quite vociferous of late.

Once the wood frogs were really into it, the chorus frogs, the leopard frogs and the spring peepers got into the act. But it needed to get much warmer to get the toads and tree frogs trilling and singing (actually, I have to say I’d describe both as trillers).

Sometimes there are green frogs here, but not many, and I only hear them on occasion. This year, to date,  I haven’t heard any. No bull frogs, either, as it’s well out of their range; although I suspect they would thrive if they were introduced (which would not be a good thing!).

It’s nice to listen to the amphibians sing; it’s really quite entertaining. But it can be overly loud. Sometimes one can’t talk on the phone or hear the TV if the door to the deck is open and the chorus is on.

A couple of days ago, a tree frog found its ways into our satellite TV dish and wow, is he loud! Maybe he’s hoping he can be heard in outer space – or at least get top billing on the pond based on volume.

I was totally amazed by the number of toads (in our pond they are all American toads) frolicking about in a reproductive frenzy the other day. The shoreline in front of the house was alive with dozens of toads not only trilling, but doing a lot of other rather naughty stuff. They really went at it for a few days. I think they finally wore themselves out. It’s mostly tree frogs doing love songs now.

After a few years of scarcity, local leopard frog populations have rebounded and for the last few years there have been good hatches. However, it seems to me that when I was a kid, young-of-the-year leopard frogs were super-abundant each summer. Maybe that was an anomaly – there is not a lot of information on what constitutes ‘normality’ with respect to population dynamics of many of Canada’s frog and toad species.

A few years back, when alarm bells were ringing suggesting that frogs and toads could be doomed because the ozone layer was thinning, and there was some indication frog populations were almost universally declining, the Ontario government put restrictions on use of frogs as bait. In case you didn’t know, anglers often use frogs to catch fish like bass, walleye and pike. The best frog is the leopard; now it’s the only frog that can be used as bait, based in part on their super-abundance (at least in the past).

I guess that’s good, but while it is legal, and leopard frogs do make good bait, I can’t use them myself; they squirm too much for me. I prefer to not use live bait at all, but sometimes I do use minnows and worms. There are no easy answers. . . .

Anyway, I do love to listen to the singing and trilling of frogs and toads. For me, their calls help make things seem right in this world.

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