Listen for Michigan’s frogs when you’re outside this spring

Each spring a handful of frogs native to Michigan call from our marshes and swamps. You can learn to identify them by the call.

Nathan Murphy

It seems like spring might finally arrive with the warmer weather. I know a lot of people enjoy hearing the birds singing and look forward to the first robin sighting of the spring. My heart warmed a little over a month ago when I heard the first red-winged blackbird calling. Birds are great, but there’s other things to listen to in our great outdoors.

In addition to birds, Michigan also has a rich diversity of amphibians, a handful of which head to the waters found in swamps and marshes to breed every spring. The males get there first and call to attract females. Like birds, the calls are species specific, and they typically appear in a regular order throughout the spring.

So far, I’ve heard wood frogs, spring peepers, and western chorus frogs. Cricket frogs should also be calling, but I haven’t heard them yet. It’s possible my outdoor meanderings haven’t brought me past cricket frog breeding habitat. In a few short weeks, depending on weather, we should be hearing American toads with their distinctive trill. You can listen to audio samples of our frog calls at this Michigan DNR website.

I’m heartened to see people taking advantage of our parks and trails during this trying time. Our green spaces are one of the things that make Michigan special. Keep social distancing, stay safe, and listen for frogs.


Nathan Murphy