Frog Call Practice

True Toads

(Family Bufonidae)

True toads have drier and bumpy skin, when compared to most frogs. They also have no teeth, very little toe webbing, and exhibit 2 characteristic parotoid glands behind their eyes. True toads lay their eggs in long strands. Their diet consist of small insects and they can be found in a variety of habitats from woodlands to open fields to residential lawns and gardens.

Fowler's Toad

(Anaxyrus fowlerii)

Call Description: Plaintive, descending, 1- to 3-second "wraaaaaah." Brash and nasal in quality.

Peak Calling: April - May

Other Notes: May hybridize (interbreed) with American Toad and uses same habitat.

Eastern American Toad

(Anaxyrus americanus americanus)

Call Description: A pleasant musical trill lasting up to 30 seconds. May sound like a simultaneous whistle and hum.

Peak Calling: March - May

Other Notes: Breeds in shallow wetlands including flooded fields and ditches.

True Frogs

(Family Ranidae)

True frogs are typically medium to large in size and have a broad mouth, smooth skin, long, strong legs, and well-developed webbing between their toes. Their diet consists of any animal small enough to be consumed, including smaller frogs. Well-adapted to swimming, they are typically found in close proximity to aquatic habitats but may travel farther on rainy nights. The exception is the Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) which make short seasonal migrations to and from upland terrestrial habitats away from their seasonal pool breeding grounds.

Southern Leopard Frog

(Lithobates sphenacephalus)

Call Description: Series of short chuckle-like croaks, mixed with croaks that sound similar to rubbing an inflated balloon. Sometime only single guttural chucks or growls will be heard.

Peak Calling: February - April

Other Notes: Breeds in any freshwater location. Males call while afloat or from land. Although the species primarily calls in the spring, individuals can sometimes be heard later and into summer. Some populations go through two calling/breeding periods (early spring and early fall) in the southern portion of the species' range.

Plains Leopard Frog

(Lithobates blairi)

Call Description: Series of 2 to 4 short ascending "chuck" sounds. Sometimes these chucks can be mistaken for the Southern Leopard Frog but Plains Leopard Frogs do not "chuckle".

Peak Calling: April - September

Other Notes: Breeding typically occurs in April through June, but they will breeding in fall after warm rains. This species can be visually distinguished from other leopard frogs and the pickerel frog by the broken skin ridges along its back.

Green Frog

(Lithobates clamitans)

Call Description: Like the twang of a loose banjo string, often given as a single note. Hollow/dull and non-musical sound. Burst of sound that, when given in rapid succession, will get progressively quieter. "Cl-tung"

Peak Calling: May - August

Other Notes: Found close to shallow water, springs, streams, swamps, brooks, and edges of ponds and lakes.

American Bullfrog

(Lithobates catesbianus)

Call Description: Deep-pitched “jug o'rum” resembling the bellow of a bull. Call may carry for more than a quarter mile in quiet areas.

Peak Calling: May - August

Other Notes: Prefers ponds, lakes, and slow-moving streams with vegetation. Uses predominantly permanent aquatic habitats as tadpoles often overwinter prior to metamorphosis. Males can be territorial. Largest frog species in North America.

Pickerel Frog

(Lithobates palustris)

Call Description: Steady, low croak. May call in a rolling snore-like croak while under water. Raspy in quality and may last up to 2 seconds. Muffled and subtle. "RRRrrrrr"

Peak Calling: March - May

Other Notes: Often seen along streams and in marshes during the day, but primarily breed in swamps, marshes, and ponds. Listen carefully for this low register call among species with boisterous, higher-pitched calls such as Spring Peeper and American Toad.

Wood Frog

(Lithobates sylvaticus)

Call Description: Series of short raspy quacks. "Wo-oh-oh, wo-oh-oh, wo-oh oh."

Peak Calling: February - March (most often Mid-March)

Other Notes: Only breeds in seasonal pools (obligate species) and relies on adjacent forest cover. Gathers in large congregations for short periods of time (typically a few weeks) following heavy early spring rains. May call during the day and into the night and most often while floating in the water.

**RARE IN STL Area**

Treefrogs & Allies

(Family Hylidae)

This family is the largest and most widespread across the globe and includes Treefrogs (Hyla spp.), Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris spp.), and Cricket Frogs (Acris spp.). Most of these species are small in size with thin waists and delicate limbs, and many possess adhesive pads on their fingers and toes for climbing. Species found in the District of Columbia eat a variety of invertebrate prey relative to their size.

Blanchard's Cricket Frog

(Acris blanchardi)

Call Description: Sharp, measured clicking, repeated in rapid succession. Call reminiscent of two glass marbles being tapped together or the shaking of a spray paint can. Repeated rattle or click. "Gick-gick-gik-gik-gik"

Peak Calling: April - July

Other Notes: Prefers wetlands with open areas and is often observed along shorelines of streams, ponds, lakes, and marshes.

Gray Treefrog

(Hyla versicolor)

Call Description: A clear, rippling, and resonating trill; musical/ melodious and bird-like; sometimes likened to the Red-bellied Woodpecker. Slower and fewer pulses than that of H. chrysoscelis .

Peak Calling: April - July

Other Notes: Breeds primarily in swamps and wet wooded areas; occurs in close proximity to shrubs and trees.

*Identical in appearance to Cope's Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) and can only be distinguished by call and genetic analysis. May record "Unknown Gray Treefrog Species" in lieu of species-level identification when needed.

Spring Peeper

(Pseudacris crucifer)

Call Description: High-pitched whistle given once per second, most often in a multiple-frog chorus. Bird-like cheep that is somewhat piercing: "peep, peep, peep" . Agonistic (encounter) call is a sharp, biting "prrreep" (not to be confused with other chorus frog species).

Peak Calling: February - May

Other Notes: Tends to occur in large numbers, particularly in cattail marshes, wooded swamps, and other vegetated wetlands. Known as one of the first species to call following winter, individuals will occasionally call out of season, including well into late fall, if the weather is similar to springtime conditions.

Boreal Chorus Frog

(Pseudacris maculata)

Call Description: Rapidly and highly repeated scrape, similar to the sound of dragging an object along a washboard or a fingernail along the teeth of a plastic pocket comb. "Wrrank" or "Wrrack". This call is often confused with the agonistic (encounter) call of the Spring Peeper (P. crucifer) but is more hollow and lazy in quality.

Peak Calling: February - April

Other Notes: Lives in prairies, cultivated fields and urban areas. Often breeding in temporary pools of water.

Breeding Call Seasons

Frog and Toad Phenology Chart.pdf

Other Nighttime Natural Sounds

Frogs and toads are not the only things active and making sounds at night. You may easily recognize the familiar sounds of city life from nearby streets, overhead planes, and the Washington Metro , but you could also encounter other nature sounds that are less familiar. Here are a few of the natural sounds most likely to be heard during DOEE FrogWatch monitoring:

Certification Practice

Species Identification Practice

How well do you know your St. Louis frog and toad species? This slideshow will allow you to test yourself on the following species:

  1. American Toad

  2. Blanchard's Cricket Frog

  3. Spring Peeper

  4. Gray Treefrog

  5. Fowler's Toad

  6. Boreal Chorus Frog

  7. Green Frog

  8. Southern Leopard Frog

  9. Pickerel Frog

To get started, click on the "fullscreen" button and click the "next" arrow.

Species Practice 1

Additional Resources

10 Most Common Frogs and Toads Around the St. Louis Region.pdf
Frog and Toad Call Descriptions.pdf