A Glimpse of Nature -- Frogs

Did you guess correctly?  Frogs were the focus of last week’s “What Is It!” game.

These gelatinous eggs contain wood frog embryos.  While wood frogs may not be as well known as bullfrogs or green frogs, they are a delight to observe in the late-winter/early-spring woods.  Listen for their duck-like quacks during March, when the frogs congregate at woodland pools to lay and fertilize eggs.  They are especially noticeable on mild, rainy nights.


Wood Frog Eggs in Hanover, MA, April 2, 2023

After a short breeding season, the adult frogs leave the vernal pool and disperse throughout the surrounding woodlands.  During most of the year, wood frogs are solitary, silent, and very-well camouflaged for life on the forest floor.  

If you are lucky enough to encounter one, here’s what you’ll see: a medium-sized, brown frog with a dark mask.


Wood Frog in La Pêche, Québec, Canada.

Ryan Hodnett, CC BY-SA 4.0 

Notice that my image of an egg cluster is dated April 2.  If these eggs haven’t hatched yet, they will soon.  Then the tadpoles will feed, grow, and transform over the next two months.  Look for them in a temporary pool in your neighborhood.  Take a moment to observe their behavior but let them grow up in the habitat they need.


Part two of “What Is It!” was a brief sound recording of American toads.  Like wood frogs, American toads have a short breeding season, but theirs takes place a little later in the year.  According to deGraff’s Amphibians and Reptiles of New England, it peaks during late April, which means you still have a chance to hear them this spring.  This species breeds in a variety of aquatic habitats that provide shallow water.  Toad egg clusters look quite different from those of wood frogs:  look for paired, gelatinous strands that a Mass Wildlife guide compares to spaghetti!  Don’t dally, though.  Check soon after hearing the toad’s chorus, because this frog’s eggs can hatch within a week.


American Toad Eggs in Easton, April 15, 2021

Listen once more to the musical trill of the American toad, which, in my view, is one of the sweetest sounds of nature. This recording from April 7, 2020 preserves the magical time when the peeper chorus overlaps with the toads’ trills.  The hand-held camera captures that moment when the frogs and the rising moon announced a beautiful evening.




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