FrogWatch USA Needs Connecticut Volunteers

Can you tell one type of frog from another by the sound of its call? If so, FrogWatch USA needs you. If not, the group will teach you how.

Connecticut chapters of FrogWatch USA, a nationwide initiative to monitor and record the number and variety of frogs and toads around the country, are holding volunteer recruiting drives this month and next.

Volunteers, if they go through the training and then pass the frog call-identifying test, will be asked to choose a specific area and go outside a half hour after sunset about once or twice a week in the spring and summer for 15 minutes to listen for the calls. After recording the number of calls heard — and the variety of calls — they will upload their findings to the FrogWatch USA national database.

Gian Morresi, an educator at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, says Connecticut has 11 species of frogs and toads, which have a variety of calls that are easily identifiable to those with training.

“Some sound like birds. Some have a regular peep. Bullfrogs sound like they’re having car races. Another one sounds like a broken banjo string. Another one sounds like you’re rubbing balloons together. Some sound like quacks or snores or like someone eating too many beans,” he says. “My favorite call is that of the Fowler’s toad. Someone described it as ‘a chain smoking baby having a really bad day.’ That’s a pretty accurate description.”

Jim Knox, education curator at Beardsley, says the National Wildlife Federation had two primary reasons for establishing FrogWatch USA.

“Frogs are important biological indicators. If you have a lot of frog diversity and numbers, it’s healthy for the environment. There are not as many issues with the air and soil,” Knox says. “The second big driver is that this is a citizen science program. Little kids, grandparents, scout groups all can all get involved. They work with professional biologists, zoo professionals, museum curators. They can learn from the experts.

“Citizens get involved in the conversation directly. Everybody wins. You’re helping the frogs, helping the environment and helping generations learn from previous generations.”

Volunteers do not need experience in animal-related activities. Only one training session is required.

The state has two chapters of FrogWatch USA. The Peabody-Beardsley-Maritime chapter is a collaboration among the zoo, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History and the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

That chapter’s training sessions are Tuesday, Feb 20, from 7 to 9 p.m. (snow date Feb. 22) at CT Forest and Park Association, 16 Meriden Road in the Rockfall section of Middlefield; Thursday, March 1, from 7 to 9 p.m. (snow date March 6) at Beardsley Zoo, 1875 Noble Ave. in Bridgeport; Saturday, March 10, from 1 to 3 p.m. (snow date March 13 7 to 9 p.m.) at The Maritime Aquarium, 10 N. Water St. in Norwalk; and Tuesday, March 20, from 7 to 9 p.m.(snow date March 22) at Environmental Science Center, which is next to the Peabody Museum, 170 Whitney Ave. in New Haven.

The state’s second FrogWatch USA chapter, based at Mystic Aquarium, is having two training sessions, both from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the aquarium. They are Thursday, Feb. 22; and Friday, March 2.

Mystic spokeswoman Dale Wolbrink says even those who don’t pass the FrogWatch quiz can go on monthly frog-watching field treks sponsored by the aquarium and held from April through October.

“Some attendees are FrogWatch trainees who are looking for a little more experience and staff guidance while some other participants are just interested in a day out looking for amphibians,” Wolbrink says.

Admission is free to participate. Information at

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