American Toad Mating Migration on SouthCoast

 American Toad (Anaxyrus/Bufo americanus), April 2015

Darkness, drizzle and fog descended on the SouthCoast of Massachusetts Friday night.  The Turtle Journal team bounced over deep potholed backroads to assess amphibian mating activity in local wetlands.

Mating Chorus of Spring Peepers, Wood Frogs and American Toads


Leaving lights and civilization far behind, the volume and shrillness of mating calls intensified as night engulfed us like an eclipse.  Spring peepers trilled mating invitations at frenzied pitch; wood frogs croaked and gurgled amphibian love songs in blank verse.

American Toad En Route to Mating Pond 

As the muted beam of our headlights blurred through the mist, we sensed more than saw an army of wriggling, hopping shapes darting across the pathway, zigzagging from dense woodlands to rain-flooded bogs.  We stepped outside and scooped up a specimen who stared back at us with face, eyes and expression that mirrored a diminutive alien.  An army of aliens, Eastern American Toads, headed for spring mating.  As American toads splashed into the bog like summer campers dashing to the old swimming hole, another, more subtle chirp joined the symphony, punctuated by a shrieking ululation.

Buckets of American Toads Leapfrogging to Mating Ponds

Despite thick fog and relentless drizzle, with flashlights in hand we cleared the roadway of a few buckets of American toads and helped them join their brothers and sisters in an amphibian night to be remembered.  For us, too, Friday proved a memorable event, rare and powerful to witness an army of “aliens” marching through the wetland darkness.

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