The Buzz

Happening now: Chorus frogs are loudly seeking mates

A chorus frog with its throat outstretched.
(Photo by Bob Bryerton)

If you venture out into the preserves these days, there's a good chance you'll hear chorus frogs belting out some tunes as they call for a mate.

Chorus frogs are some of the first frogs to emerge in our area each year and help bring the preserves alive with those familiar sounds of spring. These tiny frogs, measuring only about 1 inch in length, are heard a lot more often then they are seen, however.

"These frogs are fully grown adults in the process of courtship and mating, not babies, and they are really small," said Bob Bryerton, a program coordinator at Plum Creek Nature Center. "But they make a very loud noise that can be deafening if you are close to them."

From a distance, their call can be confused for that of crickets, but there are no crickets calling at this time of year.

"Often they will stop calling if you walk up close and they hear the footsteps or feel a predator could be near," Bryerton said. "But on certain days, they are so driven with the possibility of finding a mate that they will throw caution to the wind and remain calling even if you walk right up to where they are sitting. This is when you can get a look at them."

Even if you're close, spotting them can be extremely difficult both due to their size and their built-in camouflage. For example, there are nine chorus frogs tucked away in this photo:

If you want to spot chorus frogs next time you hear them calling, take your time and scan the water. Bryerton said it's best to have a pair of binoculars. If they're calling you should be able to spot the movement of their expanding throats.

While they are quite vocal when looking for a mate, the actual mating process isn't very theatrical. Once the male and female pair up, it's a bit of a drawn-out undertaking. The male will hang onto the female, sometimes for a day or more, fertilizing the eggs as she deposits them.

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