Frog Watch USA

Dragonfly Pond Frog Watch from 2013 to 2017 by Laura Gogola & Laurine Cybulski

   In 2013, we volunteered to be Citizen Scientists, and documented the presence (or absence) of amphibians in Tenhave Woods. To prepare, we attended workshops in frog watching at the Detroit Zoo, held by the staff of the National Amphibian Conservation Center.  We learned to identify the calls of the 13 native frogs of Michigan, and how to complete the protocol (including temperature, precipitation, wind speed) of the area we were observing.  These weekly observations were sent to the zoo staff, who forwarded them to the national center.  Six different species of frog were identified by call, some more prevalent than others.

   Our first year was a true adventure. In April, the Spring Peepers can be heard from the parking lot outside the Woods. We were not, however, prepared for the attack of the American Toads.  These animals had been observed by others during the day, but truly come into their own by dark. Their call does not carry like the peepers, and is long and musical. That first spring they were so thick on the path we had to use sticks to encourage them to get out of our way.  A most delightful discovery midway through that first year was to hear the Western Chorus Frog. Where had it been up to now? It was not seen until a year or two later. It, too, has a distinctive call, rising in pitch, like running your finger over a comb.  Normally, we do not run into other people in the Woods after dark. Too many mosquitoes. But one year we found another woman sitting on our spot. She told us that she had done Frog Watch at the pond in past years. She did not tell us what she had heard other than the Spring Peepers or where she had reported her findings. Another mystery.

   Laurine and I are now retiring from our rolls as “frog listeners.” As we age, hearing deteriorates, and we feel we can no longer adequately do the job. The job is important, however, and we highly recommend that someone with younger ears take over. The Detroit Zoo provides training in the early spring, and we would be happy to share our experiences with our successors. The work of the Citizen Scientist is critical to the documentation of species in our environment. They are the trained eyes and ears of the research scientist, enabling a much broader observation of what changes are occurring in the natural world around us.  If you think you might be interested in becoming a “Frog Watcher”, please contact the Detroit Zoo. Classes are held from the end of January thru early March. 

   Please click here for frog/toad data and summary of activity.