What’s That Noise?

We are familiar with many sounds and noises that occur inside (doors opening and closing, phones ringing, music playing, glasses chiming, etc.), but we might not be so familiar with the noises we hear when we are outside.

Frogs, squirrels and birds can make a wide range of sounds. Some bird species can make a lot of different calls too, so it can be difficult to tell if you are hearing one bird or many. There are over 500 species of birds you can spot in Florida throughout the year, so it can be quite overwhelming to try and learn bird calls.

The commonly seen and heard eastern gray squirrel can make a few different sounds, but once you learn them they can be told apart from other species. You can search on YouTube to find and listen to different noises squirrels make.

The other major noise makers are frogs. Frogs are a great group of animals to learn their calls because they are more often heard than seen. There are only 16 native species found here in Central Florida, but we also have three non-native species, bringing the total up to 19.

If you want to break up this number, you can group the frogs by where they live. For example, those that spend most of their time in the water are called aquatic frogs. If you live near a body of water (big or small), you can focus on learning the five species of aquatic frogs and their calls. These species include:

  • American Bullfrog
  • Bronze Frog
  • Pig Frog (often confused with the sound of an alligator or a wild hog)
  • Southern Leopard Frog
  • Southern Cricket Frog

The other groups of frogs are terrestrial and arboreal frogs. Terrestrial frogs are those that live on the ground and often have dry, somewhat bumpy skin; there are eight species of terrestrial frogs (one non-native (Greenhouse Frog) and one invasive (Cane Toad)).  Arboreal frogs are those that live in trees and are very good climbers; there are five species of arboreal frogs, only one of which is invasive (Cuban Treefrog).

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Green Treefrog resting on a tree branch at Brooker Creek Preserve in Tarpon Springs, FL. Photo Credit: Lara Milligan

A great place to learn all about frogs in Florida is through the University of Florida’s Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation website. It is very user-friendly and helpful. From this website, there are links to the United State Geological Survey Frog Call Lookup where you can listen to frog calls for each species you select.

If you want to get even more involved in learning your frog calls and help scientists while you do it, you can become a part of the Frog Listening Network: www.tampabay.wateratlas.usf.edu/fln/.

You will find that when you are able to identify even just one species by sight or sound, it will make your time outside that much more exciting and enjoyable. And there is no better time to start than Take a Child Outside Week which runs from Saturday, September 24th until Friday, September 30th this year. With all this rain, there should be plenty to hear and maybe even see!