Croaky serenade: It's prime time to tune in for frog
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
For people who are into frogs, this is the time of year
to get an earful.
Frogs and toads are their noisiest during the first week
of May as the breeding season gets into full swing.
Seven of Wisconsin's 12 species are now breeding, and
that means a veritable chorus from Wisconsin's woodlands
"This is the peak for the whole year, and if you're listening,
you'll typically hear two or three at one time," said
Randy M. Korb, a naturalist and author of a new book,
Most of the noise comes from the males, who use their
songs to attract females. After they meet up, the pair
embrace. After the female lays her eggs, the male fertilizes
them, Korb said.
The 80-page book is a guide to all of the state's frogs
and toads. In addition to descriptions of each species,
the book tells readers in Milwaukee, Madison, the Fox
Cities and Green Bay where they have a good chance of
"If you live out in the country, you don't need a book,"
said Korb, who has a master's degree in urban interpretation
from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
"Everyone in small towns knows where the frogs are."
He got interested in frogs in the early 1980s when he
volunteered to count them for the state Department of
Natural Resources' annual frog survey. Volunteers agree
to go out three times a year to 10 places and count the
frogs by listening to songs.
Korb visits 75 to 100 schools a year, using frogs as
a tool to explain nature.
"You can talk and talk, but when you pull out a frog
and they start jumping, that's when kids' eyes light up,"
Korb said. "Then the light goes on."
Korb gathers up frogs every October, waiting for the
last humid rainy night when males' testosterone level
is high and they are easier to find.
Two years ago, he found a frog, almost dead and bleeding
from the eyes, after it was hit by a speeding car.
"It was 3:30 in the morning and this car comes rushing
by," Korb said. "I always tell the kids that I thought
it was teenagers - the teachers like that - and then I
saw this frog coming tumbling down the road."
Korb shows the students a picture of Blinkie the day
after the accident. Then, he brings out Blinkie today.
While he is blind, the frog is healthy and loves to eat
"Wisconsin Frogs" was published with financial help from
the Northeastern Wisconsin Audubon Society, the Great
Lakes Aquatic Habitat Fund and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
The book includes a CD of the songs of Wisconsin's 12
frogs and toads narrated by Bethany Matula, a grade school
student from Kimberly.
The CD tells us that spring peepers, a tree frog, often
call in trios.
Wood frogs are often mistaken for ducks because of their
The song of a western chorus frog sounds like a thumb
being pulled over a comb, and the northern leopard frog
sings like "wet hands rubbing over a balloon."