The Swimming Toads

by Paul Esh | Mar 1, 2023 | 0 comments

American toad singing
American toad singing. Photo © Kevin Shank.

Once upon a Good Friday evening, I, with my family, which consists of four brothers and two sisters and Dad and Mom, went down to our pond to fish. And then I heard that sound again. Ah, the beautiful sound of toads in spring.

It’s a high-pitched, warbling song, starting low and rising to a trilling high, a song you can imitate by rolling your tongue. And it’s drawn out amazingly. If there’s a whole multitude of toads, it sounds like a constant crescendo.

Last spring I had tried to tell Mother that toads come to water to lay their eggs. We both think we know a little bit about nature because it’s our keen interest. She insisted that toads don’t swim. Toads are a gardener’s best friend, so they stay in places where it’s dry and warm. “It’s probably just a frog that resembles a toad,” she suggested.

Now was the time to prove my study. Last spring I had proved it to myself, but I wanted Mother to believe it. I laid down my fishing pole and told Mother, “Let’s go down to that pool beside the big creek, and I can show you that there are indeed toads singing in that still water.”

She immediately agreed, and I made sure I had a bright light. Off we trudged through the brambles, as the toad song became louder. As we rattled through the branches and dead leaves, everything became silent, but they simply couldn’t contain themselves. We soon had one under our bright light, then another, and many, many more. Most of them were halfway in the water, or just their heads out of water, but we could see the bottom of that murky pool, so we could follow them pretty well.

Suddenly one blew its throat out to twice its size, and immediately another joined in until the air was filled with their shrill, sweet music. Mother suppressed a laugh, as she had always imagined toads as fat, lazy creatures that sit there zapping bugs with their long sticky tongues, whenever some careless insect comes within reach. And there they were, floating around with their legs hanging down, kicking to the edge of the water, then joining in the chorus.

Seeing is believing! Next spring come April, when you think you’re hearing frogs (no, not spring peepers), you just might want to go to a twilight meeting amongst the reeds and rushes in a swamp or puddle. Oh, and take your headlamp. If you disagree about them being toads, let’s see a story in Nature Friend about it.

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