Apr 01 2013

Sounds Like Ducks

Published by at 7:30 am under Insects, Fish, Frogs

Wood frog (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

Last Saturday at Raccoon Wildflower Reserve I heard the sound of ducks in the woods but I wasn’t fooled.  I knew they were wood frogs.

For most of the year wood frogs (Rana sylvatica) keep a low profile.  In the summer they hide under leaves to avoid being eaten.  In the winter they’re literally frozen “frog-sicles” under the leaf litter, but in early spring they emerge for an orgy in the nearest vernal pond.

The male wood frogs float around and call to attract the females.  When the crowd really gets going they sound like ducks.  The first time I heard them I searched in vain for the flock of ducks making so much noise at the edge of a damp field.  Hah!  Wood frogs.  Click here to hear.

When the lady frogs arrive the orgy begins.  Multiple males grab a female and ride around on her back.  The pond becomes dotted with clumps of frogs.

After they mate the female wood frogs lay masses of eggs in big globs like this.

Wood frog eggs (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

Then the orgy is over.  The adults disappear into the woods and the sound of ducks comes to an end.

Ironically, there’s a duck whose courtship call sounds like frogs:  the hooded merganser.

Nature is playing April Fools.

(photos by Marcy Cunkelman)

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Sounds Like Ducks”

  1. kcon 01 Apr 2013 at 10:05 am

    I heard the wood frogs and spring peepers in the woods this wknd. I think that wood frogs sound like chickens or brants. The first time I heard them was on an late night walk (I was hoping to hear owls) in a wooded park where all my teenage ghost stories are set. The cackling aspect of the wood frogs voices freaked me out and I left the woods pronto giggling and squealing the whole way.

  2. Cris Hamiltonon 01 Apr 2013 at 12:27 pm

    As usual — enjoyed your posting very much!

  3. Deniseon 02 Apr 2013 at 4:00 pm

    I was at The Wildflower reserve today, and it was very quiet. No frogs. it was cloudy, windy and upper 30′s.Is that why I didn’t hear anything?

  4. Kate St. Johnon 02 Apr 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Their activity is very weather-dependent. They’re cold-blooded so cold weather slows them down.

  5. Marcy Con 02 Apr 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Nothing here either….but we had snow off and on all day, with a bitter north wind…maybe by Thursday when it starts to warm up, they will be singing like crazy…weather same tomorrow, so I won’t venture down over the steep hill to see if they are talkin’ and squawkin’

  6. Marcy Con 08 Apr 2013 at 8:20 am

    Steve and I were down yesterday and there were MORE egg masses, but very quiet. Hoping the warmer weather will hatch out the eggs…it’s dry, but this water pool is still holding on well for water…I did see a salamander too…not sure what kind…

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