Backyard Explorers Week 1: Frogs and Toads

Explore: Listen for the songs of Frogs and Toads

Did you know that frogs and toads sing, just like birds? In summertime, you can tell which ones are around you by listening for their songs!

Here are some common frogs and toads that live here in the Finger Lakes of New York State. Listen to their songs and then see if you can hear them singing around your house. Make sure to listen at different times of day – morning, midday, and evening – since not all frogs and toads sing all day.

American Bullfrog

The American Bullfrog is the biggest species of frog in America, and can get as long as your foot or bigger! Its song sounds like someone plucking a giant rubber band and once you know it, you won’t be able to miss it. Listen for them near ponds and in the evenings or early mornings. (Image by Carl D. Howe)

Listen to its sound!

Northern Spring Peeper

Spring peepers have a high, beeping song that is surprisingly loud for their tiny size – about as long as your little finger! Listen for them early in the morning or at bedtime. (Image by Judy Gallagher)

Listen to its sound!

Eastern Gray Tree Frog

Lots of people mistake this frog for a bird, due to the loud, bright song it sings throughout the day from branches high in trees. While they are easy to hear, don’t expect to spot one: they cling tightly to trees and their gray skin hides them so they look like just another bump of bark! These frogs sing throughout the day. (Image by Judy Gallagher)

Listen to its sound!

Eastern American Toad

American toads are unique in that they sing in a chorus. Their long, high trill may last up to 30 seconds, and while you may sometimes hear one alone, more often you’ll hear them singing together. They sing mostly at night, but will also come out on warm, rainy days. (Image by Bnski)

Listen to its sound!

Green Frog

Have you ever heard the sound of a banjo? That’s what a green frog sounds like – one big banjo pluck. Green frogs live in streams and ponds and sing in the evenings. Don’t be mistaken by the name – while many of these frogs are green, some have a bronze or tan color instead. Open your window just before bedtime and listen for their twang. (Image by Cephas)

Listen to its sound!

Activity: Listen for Frogs and Toads

Using what you learned above, listen for frogs and toads at different times of day: first thing in the morning and just before bed are the best times. If you don’t hear any in your backyard, take a trip to a nearby pond and see if you can hear any there. Use the links above to see if you can identify which species you are hearing!

Do you have a kid, second grade or higher, who wants to go a lot deeper on this subject? Check out this Mystery Doug episode.

Listen to a Story: Reading of Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

Listen to a Story: Green Wilma, Frog in Space

Do a Project – Make a Frog Puppet

You’ll find all the supplies for this frog puppet in our pickup bag. Instead of flat eyes, we’ve included googly ones with a peel off sticker back.

Color a Frog and Toad Page

Learn More: For Bigger Kids and Caregivers

Take a frog and toad song quiz

More frog and toad songs and facts

Frogs and toads of New York with range maps

Frogs and toads of New York with a calendar of when they sing

Frogs and Toads of New York printable (included in your packet)