The call of a small, green-brown wild

Ponds near Lake Ontario are home to many amphibians, including leopard frogs, above, and toads, below. PHOTOS: Ann Brokelman
Ponds near Lake Ontario are home to many amphibians, including leopard frogs, above, and toads, below. PHOTOS: Ann Brokelman

After work the other night, I took a walk by the ponds down at Bluffer’s Park near the lake. The strident chorus of sounds coming from the area was mesmerizing. I looked around the pond and knelt down by the water and saw several toads swimming around, chasing each other, some mating, and some just sitting on a branch singing.

I noticed one particular toad sitting on a stray piece of garbage in the water when suddenly the front of its throat swelled and a beautiful sound emerged. I have been watching pond creatures for a long time, but I finally captured my first shot of one singing.

In the same pond, a leopard frog sat alone calling out; I had no idea leopard frogs expanded the sides of their mouths when calling in a mate (an action that is very different from the toads’).

I jumped on the web when I arrived home to learn more about our local toads and frogs. According to Frog Watch Ontario, these creatures start their calls as they emerge from their winter hibernation, when the forest and wetlands begin warming up in the spring sunshine. This is their time to find a mate.

Check out the Frog Watch Ontario program online at naturewatch.ca/english/frogwatch/on/.

Each frog and toad species has its own distinct call, making it easy to recognize each of Ontario’s 13 species. Frogs and toads are four-legged, tail-less amphibians that spend part of their lives in water and part on land. All frogs and toads lack scales and claws and have shorter front legs compared to their more powerful hind legs. Frogs tend to have moist, smooth skin, while toads normally have dry, warty skin and slightly shorter hind legs. All species must live near a source of water to lay their eggs.

wild side-toad_MG_3335

At-ten-SHUN! What do you call a group of frogs? An army!

Frogs have two bulging eyes and long, strong webbed hind feet for leaping and swimming, and they lay their eggs in a cluster. When hunting for food, frogs sit still and wait for prey to happen by, then pounce with their powerful legs. They will eat just about anything they can fit in their mouths: beetles, ants, flies, worms, birds, garter snakes and even smaller frogs (including their own species).

In fact, I remember one camping trip when my son brought back a bucket of frogs to show everyone. By the time we peeked in the bucket, there was only one large frog left with a foot hanging out of its mouth. I’m not sure whether the consensus was that it was really cool or really disgusting!

Not sure what to call a group of toads?  A knot!

Toads have stubby bodies with short hind legs for walking instead of hopping, and they lay their eggs in long chains. They have bumpy, dry skin that helps them blend into the environment. Although fairy tales and spooky stories may have us believe otherwise, the bumps on the toads’ backs are not actually warts!

Good local places to look for frogs, toads and turtles are marshes and ponds, especially at Tommy Thompson Park, Ashbridges Bay and Bluffer’s Park.


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