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Frog and Toad Spring Concerts

It seems that every spring when the ice comes off ponds and marshes it is not long before these bodies of water are the source of a cacophony of croaks, quacks, trills, and chirps from frogs and toads.

It is the males of the species doing their darndest, to impress the females. The competition is between the males is fierce. And there is often more than one species of frog or toad singing. So it is often hard to differentiate between the different calls.

According to “Reptiles and Amphibians of North Dakota” by Sandy Johnson, published by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, four species of frogs may be found in North Dakota (Gray Tree, Northern Leopard, Western Chorus, and Wood). Five species of toads are also listed for the state. (American, Canadian, Great Plains, Plains Spadefoot, and Woodhouse’s).

Hearing these frogs in the spring is quite common, but we rarely see them. If you depend on descriptions of calls, here's what to listen for:

  • The northern leopard frog's call is sometimes described as a guttural croaking or snoring. They range over the entire state.
  • The boreal chorus frog also ranges over the entire state. Their call is often compared to running a fingernail down the teeth of a good comb.
  • Wood frogs range north and east of the Missouri River. Their call is often described as several repeated quacks.

But it is recordings of calls that really come to the rescue when it comes to identification. This site, which I have found quite helpful, contains recordings of all the North Dakota frogs and toads except the Woodhouse’s toad.

So, get out and enjoy the spring frog and toad concerts. Once the mating season is over, the concert is too.

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