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Ontario Marsh Monitoring Program, 2004
ERG Report, Vol 4, No 2, Spring 2004 supplement


Madame Chairman and  honoured guests,

This evening I would like to tell you about the ONTARIO MARSH MONITORING PROGRAM

Madame Chairman ..there is a lot of excitement in the air

in Ontario these days, as Spring approaches

Because for the Amphibians of our province, namely the frog and toad populations

the Spring Mating Season is about to begin.

And this in turn is exciting..for many People in the Province

As they look forward....to participating once again in the

Annual.. Ontario Marsh Monitoring Program.

Also known as....... Frogwatch Ontario

The name Frog WATCH is actually something of a misnomer, as.

participants are not so much watching as listening ..for the distinctive calls

of various species of Amphibians in local wetlands

To try this out,  and stay dry while you do so

simply drive around to you local wetland..park your car at the roadside

Roll down the window ......and listen to the sounds of the marsh

Listening is best done in the evening or at night,

as this is when the frogs get frisky...and the calling begins in earnest

By participating in this activity.... We accomplish a number of things

First, We can learn to identify.. the calls of Ontario's amphibians

And also we can learn more generally about Wetlands

And most importantly ..we can have some fun

So the most effective way to monitor Amphibian populations

is to listen.. for the calls of male frogs during their mating season

Male amphibians call for a couple of reasons

One is..........to protect their territory

And the other reason is to attract females.

Each species ... has a very distinctive mating call.

With a little practice .... These become fairly easy to identify,

And from there to count or estimate the number of frogs present in the wetland

In the winter Adult frogs hibernate .. depending on the species

either in the muddy bottoms of ponds and streams..... or in hollow logs .....or in the ground, 

And then, in the spring ... They begin to emerge

in South Ontario, they can first be heard in March

whereas in Central/N Ontario they are first heard in April and May

An important point is..

That the various Amphibian species do not all begin calling at the same time;

Different species get active at different times.

as the spring and summer advances

So there is a sequence of species that call

as a particular pond thaws out ....or a wetland warms up

The first species to heard.... in the spring

are usually Wood Frogs... then come the Chorus frogs then the Spring peepers

Then other species begin calling later..continuing on into June and even July

How many species of amphibians are there in Ontario?

There are 12.

Two toads....American and Fowler's toads

And Ten frogs.............Wood, Chorus (2), spring peeper, Grey treefrog, Green frog

and 4 named after other animals

Leopard, Mink, Pickerel and Bull frog

Let's briefly describe these dozen amphibians and the calls that they make.

I don't have a tape recording of these...so I will give you my rendition of the calls

First, The call of the American Toad , a very common amphibian

is long:a 30 sec trill which can dominate the soundscape on a summer evening.

The other Ontario toad is the: Fowlers Toad , quite uncommon

in Canada only found along the north shore of Lake Erie,

It's call: like a baby cry.waaaaa Fowlers Toad

Now on to the frogs:

Wood Frog ......may be the first to call in the spring

The call is a series of sharp quacks, almost like a duck. ("quack")

So if you think you hear the sound of a duck ..in a wetland in spring

it may not be a duck.......It may be a Wood frog

Chorus Frog.. is one of the first species to emerge in the spring.

Call: like running a fingernail along a comb. Demo .Chorus frog

Spring Peeper is heard next: It is a tiny 3 cm tree frog

Call:. Each call is a single, loud, high pitched peep .repeated over and over.

a full chorus can be loud, indeed deafening ..you can hear it half a km away.

Peep peep peep..The Spring Peeper

another treefrog, is the Gray Treefrog

Again the call is like a that of a bird..in this case that of the Red Bellied Woodpecker

As the spring progresses, other frogs begin to make themselves heard:

Green Frog. (a large, green frog)

Call: is described as a deep twang like a loose banjo string. Gunk. Green frog

Leopard frog, with large spots like a leopard

The Call. Sometimes it sounds like a finger rubbed on a wet balloon.......Creeeeeeeek

Mink Frog . So named for having the colour and odour of a mink .

Call: like the tapping of a metal hammer on wood. Or like popcorn popping.

It Starts slowly, then accelerates ...... the Mink frog

The call of the Pickerel Frog .... is a low snoring sound

Pickerel Frogs sometimes call from under water...

snore..............the Pickerel frog

Finally, the Bullfrog , as the largest frog,up to 17 cm long.

It has a call which is a deep resonant growling bass .."jug-o-rum". ...........Bullfrog

 So these are our dozen Ontario amphibians ( and the sounds that they make.)


One added point..

It is worth remembering that there was until recently in Ontario.. a 13th species

Blanchard's Cricket Frog.. a small tree frog.

it has unfortunately been silenced

it was last heard on Pelee Island in 1987..

so it seems to have disappeared

This is a reminder to us ..of the importance of monitoring wildlife populations

These populations have certainly proved to be affected by human activity

And not always in a positive way

Madame Chairman,

The Ontario Marsh Monitoring Program is an interesting one.

If you would like to participate..visit the Frogwatch Ontario web site

Or you can call. Quinte Conservation

I would like to conclude

by taking a moment to recreate the sounds of a Marsh in spring time..............With your help

Let us imagine that here ..........in the (facility)

We are in the middle of a swamp. in spring time

we will restrict the number of species in our swamp ..to just 4

(I) Chorus Frog. (sopranos) Spring peeper. (Altos and tenors): Green frog. (Basses) Bull frog.

I will lead off the chorus as the Chorus Frog, then we will phase in..

Here we go..Make it DEAFENING

Madame Chairman