Wood Frogs


“Oh baby, be mine!”

It is that time of year again when our little friends are calling from the pond. There are already eggs among the submerged vegetation and soon the tiny tadpoles will hatch. I thought I’d publish my post from last year to honor their arrival and this ancient rite of spring.

Wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) have found their way to my little garden pond next to the front steps. There is still snow in the yard, but they are announcing spring is here. To hear their mating call, click here. They sound a bit like ducks quacking.


Kind of cute, isn’t he?

These little critters are about 2-3 inches long and live in wooded areas, hunting in leaf litter for prey. They are so well camouflaged that one only sees them when they jump, making a fast getaway. They overwinter under the leaf litter and curiously, can freeze completely, even enduring repeated thaw and freeze cycles. Wood frogs only come to water, usually vernal pools, to breed. Frogs prefer vernal pools (which are ephemeral, lasting only a month or two), for breeding because they lack fish, which will prey upon eggs and tadpoles. I’ve come to the conclusion that they are a delicacy because everything eats them, including other amphibians.

Can you spy four frogs?

Can you spy four frogs?

We cover the pond over winter to prevent it from filling with leaves and debris. On Saturday morning my spouse uncovered it and it had a 2″ layer of ice covering it. Sunday I raked the garden bed surrounding the pond and was startled to uncover one of these little frogs – yikes! The ice was melting pretty fast, but seeing that we already had a tenant waiting to take up residency, I removed the rest of the ice with a rake and scooped out what leaves that had found their way in under the cover. The pond always smells a bit off at first, but the sun takes care of it after a few days.

"Your eyes are like deep forest pools."

“Your eyes are like deep forest pools.”

It only took two days to attract four frogs and more will come. The spring peepers will be next. My favorite, they are are only 1 inch long and cling to the shrubbery around the pond. They drive my spouse crazy since they incessantly “peep-peep-peep” all night long into June, especially if it rains! We will eventually also get green frogs that find their way up from the river. It’s quite a party out there some nights – all in this tiny  3 x 4 foot pond!

To learn more about wood frogs and their life cycle, click here.


About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
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42 Responses to Wood Frogs

  1. west517 says:

    🙂 I love frogs~ my parents have a pond FULL of this time of year… it’s like a public pool 😀
    I also wanted to let you know that my blog has changed. I lost all my content and followers during a transfer. If you would still like to follow me, my new blog address is: west517photos.wordpress.com

    • Eliza Waters says:

      It must be deafening at your parents house – big parteeeey! 😉
      Thanks so much for letting me know about the new site. How harsh is that, you lost all your followers AND content? – ouch!

  2. wow! What a profound sign of spring!! 🙂

  3. arlingwoman says:

    I love the sound of these frogs. It’s almost primal the way it makes me relax. And the peepers! Signs of good weather…

  4. Val Boyko says:

    A sure sign and sound of Spring! We heard them for the first time 2 nights ago. It was wonderful 🙂

  5. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    What lovely frogs! I love having frogs in the garden. Our spawn has hatched now and we’ve been watching the little tadpoles!

  6. cindy knoke says:

    WOW, fascinating little guys!

  7. seedbud says:

    What darlings! The water seems so thick with new life and possibilities!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      It’s amazing that they come right after the snow & ice melts. The cold water doesn’t bother them at all. Hardy little critters! I counted seven yesterday with one female who has already laid her eggs and gone.

  8. Maria F. says:

    So nice that they are back in their own ecosystem in than vernal pool!

  9. I didn’t know they could withstand freezing and refreezing or about the vernal pools. Very cool actually. Thanks, Eliza.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank You, Barbara. They have been ‘quacking’ all day, even as I write now. They are fun little visitors to have around, but I imagine if they were here all the time, I might get a bit crazy!

  10. dorannrule says:

    Thank you for a glimpse of that other world! I can only imagine how happy the little frogs are to be back to your sweet smelling pool. 🙂

  11. Another sign of spring! I have a garden pond too but also have koi so no frogs.

  12. Kathy Sturr says:

    Oh my gosh you have just reinforced my will to dig a a pond this year! I only want a pond for frogs and it looks like it’s pretty easy ha ha. I LOVE the peepers. At Zenda Farm where I sometimes walk but soon hope to run, there is a large vernal pool that is always full of peepers but every time I try to sneak up on them, it goes quite silent. I have yet to see one in person but I love to hear them. Summer nights with the windows open we can hear them across French Bay. I can’t imagine how loud they would be right next to the house!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Ours is a preformed plastic one that I picked up years ago at a garden center and it wasn’t too tough to install. Making it level is the biggest challenge. I recommend using sand to backfill once you’ve set it, as frost will heave it. Because it is shallow, it freezes solid, so I must drain and remove all critters in the fall before refilling it. Hard lesson learned that first spring , all those dead things smelled awful! It may take a year or two for them to find it, but if you build it, they will come! A gentle splashing fountain draws them in faster, too. Good luck!

  13. They look to be hearty souls! I love the sound of frogs on a warm evening.

  14. myrsbytes says:

    They are so cute! Thanks for sharing your frog story. I didn’t know that fishless ponds were good frog habitats. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a frog in a city park, only in wilder forested spaces or more rural areas. They do make wonderful music in the evening. Though they make it a bit hard for me to fall asleep. 🙂

    • Eliza Waters says:

      It can get pretty noisy at night, especially with the peepers, but I love them all the same! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. 🙂 Have a great weekend.

  15. Robin says:

    I really enjoyed this post, Eliza. I miss the frogs (wood, green, and bull) that we have around our pond in Ohio. It’s a good thing my youngest son and his wife are renting from us because that means I can visit the pond and the frogs occasionally. 🙂

    • Eliza Waters says:

      They all have distinct calls that are background music to warm summer nights. I can see why you’d miss it. The other sounds I love are crickets and katydids. Pure bliss!

  16. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  17. Jewels says:

    How wonderful that the frogs have returned! I love the sound of frogs, I miss it living here in the city. So much so, that I downloaded a recording of them that I play frequently on summer nights. Although, it’s just not the same…
    Lovely post Eliza! 🙂

  18. Robbie says:

    I hear them Eliza! I thought of you the other day when I heard them singing:-)

  19. Sharon says:

    Aww, they’re in love :-).

  20. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says:

    I have been gone for two weeks, and left just as the peepers were starting. They are now about finished. I miss them already! I love frogs so much!!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      It is quite surprising how quickly the breeding passes. Ten to fourteen days, then it’s over until next year. Here, when it rains, the peepers will call until June. The tadpoles are fun to watch until they grow legs and leave.

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