Zionsville Times Sentinel

June 19, 2013

Frog songs and s’mores

By Lynn Jenkins
For the Times Sentinel

Zionsville — The trill of the American Toad — the “frog” that was once common in our backyards — will always conjure up a memory of camping out at Willow Lake in the spring back in my much younger days.

The old Nash Rambler had pull-down seats that laid flat for sleeping. My sister and I would camp out in the car while my parents enjoyed nighttime fishing just a few yards away. We did this several times a summer, awakening to the smell of the campfire that had roasted our hot dogs and s’mores the night before. I don’t recall being aware of the night sounds then. Only in my later years when I again heard the frog song did my spirit awaken to the memory of those pleasant days.

The call of the toad is often described as the trill of a teakettle, long, high and melodious. There are 17 frog species in Indiana: three toads and 14 frogs. The less common Fowler’s toad has a harsher call, a nasally bleat likened to a lifeguard’s whistle. Many of our amphibian’s spring mating calls are quite easily distinguishable, like that of the Northern Cricket Frog, which sounds like two steel balls clicking together, often continuing for a long series. The call of the Western Chorus Frog is that of running a finger across the teeth of a comb. The Green Frog’s call reminds most of a plucked banjo string. Discerning their distinctive calls can be quite a fun family activity and a great way to introduce kids or adults to nature.

See Wednesday's Times Sentinel for the full story.