Become a FrogWatch USA Volunteer: Listen to your Local Frogs

In the U.S., frogs and toads are beginning to wake up from their winter hibernation and soon we’ll be hearing the calls of spring as the amphibian breeding season begins. This a great time to become a Frog Watch USA volunteer, where you will make a commitment to monitor a local site for 3 minutes at least twice a week throughout the breeding season.

You don’t have to be an expert to become a volunteer, but you might find it helpful to attend a Frog Watch training session hosted by zoos, aquariums, and conservation organizations nationwide. Here’s a list of the upcoming training sessions:

Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
March 16, 2012; 6:00-8:00 pm
March 20, 2012; 6:00-8:00 pm

Brevard Zoo
April 11, 2012; 4:30-8:30 pm
April 14, 2012; 4:30-8:30 pm
May 23, 2012; 4:30-8:30 pm
June 20, 2012; 4:30-8:30 pm
July 25, 2012; 4:30-8:30 pm
August 22, 2012; 4:30-8:30 pm
August 25, 2012; 4:30-8:30 pm

Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo, Gainesville, FL
March 17, 2012

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo
April 5, 2012; 6:30-8:30 pm (volunteer training)
May 3, 2012; 6:30-8:30 pm (call identification and certification)
June 7, 2012; 6:30-8:30 pm (volunteer training)
July 5, 2012; 6:30-8:30 pm (call identification and certification)
August 2, 2012; 6:30-8:30 pm (end-of-season wrap up/pot luck)

Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
March 13, 2012; 5:30-9:30 pm
March 17, 2012; 1:00-5:30 pm

Monroe County Parks and Rec
March 22, 2012; 6:00-9:00 pm

Detroit Zoo
March 11, 2012; 1:00-4:00 pm
March 18, 2012; 1:00-4:00 pm

Saint Louis Zoo
March 24, 2012; 10:00 am-12:30 pm
March 28, 2012; 7:00-9:00 pm (certification)

New Jersey
Jenkinson’s Aquarium
March 21, 2012; 6:00-8:00 pm

Rhode Island
Roger Williams Park Zoo
March 24, 2012; 10:00am-12:00 pm
April 12, 2012; 6:00-8:00 pm

Chatanooga Zoo
March 31, 2012

Utah’s Hogle Zoo
March 17, 2012; 2:00-4:00pm

Virginia Zoo, March 18, 2012; 5:00pm

At a recent training session at the Lynchburg (VA) Public Library, for example, volunteers listened to the calls and then tried to connect them to a recognizable sound. Here’s one of the frog calls these volunteers tried to identify. Does the call of this Pickerel frog sound to you like a squeaky door – or like a snore?

More information:

The FrogWatch site includes a Frogs and Toads by State list and a link to the U.S. Geological Survey Frog Quiz of frog calls.


Become a Frog Listener and Help Save Your State's Frogs

In many parts of the country, frogs and toads have begun their hibernation, and we humans, too, are hibernating for the winter—at least in parts of the northern hemisphere. This is a good time, however, to hone your frog listening skills and to think about volunteering as a frog listener for the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program, (NAAMP) a nationwide program of the U.S. Geological Survey that studies the distribution and relative abundance of amphibians in North America. The data collected from frog listeners across the country is analyzed for patterns of amphibian stability or decline on local, regional, and national levels.

Several states are participating in this study. Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources, for example, has participated in NAAMP, since 2008. In Georgia as elsewhere, frogs serve as indicators of environmental change: the data collected by volunteers helps monitor habitat change or loss of wetlands.

In Georgia, volunteers are asked to drive a predetermined route (or routes), stopping for five minutes to listen for and report frog species and their relative abundance at 10 established wetland stops. They visit these local listening routes three times a year.

Frog listening not only helps frogs, it helps the participants, too. Listening to the frog calls, according to Sarah Barlow, a NAAMP participant, is not only relaxing and enjoyable, it also builds “a greater appreciation of being in the woods.” (Quoted in an online article Frog Listener Volunteers Answer Call To Help Survey Frogs Across Georgia.)

Before becoming a frog listener, you must first take the U.S. Geological Survey quiz and be able to idenfity 65 percent of the frogs in your state. Even if you don’t want to become a frog listener, it’s fun to take the quiz to test your knowledge of the calls of frogs in your state.

So in addition to holiday music, why not plan to listen to some other choruses—frog choruses—in preparation for spring. If you live in Georgia, you don’t have to wait that long. The first listening window next year opens January 15.

Here’s one frog from Georgia with a distinctive call, the Green Frog (Rana clamitans)