FrogWatch USA

Ribbit! Ribbit! How to Help with Frog and Toad Conservation – in Your Own Backyard

They live in backyards, parks, fields, creeks or just about anywhere, but in many areas their numbers are dwindling. Frogs and toads face major threats, and up to one-third of the world’s amphibian species are in danger of extinction.

Frogs and toads play an important role as both prey and predator in wetland ecosystems, and are considered indicators of the health of their environments. But many previously abundant frog and toad populations have declined dramatically in the United States and around the world.

The Santa Barbara Zoo is part of FrogWatch USA, a national “citizen science” effort to identify and count frogs and toads.

The information gathered is entered into an online database from all FrogWatch chapters over the past 15 years – and may ultimately lead to practical and workable ways to stop amphibian decline.

FrogWatch Training at the Zoo

You don’t have to be a frog or toad expert to join FrogWatch. You don’t touch and rarely see the little critters, but are trained to listen for the croaks, peeps, trills, and other calls of common local species. Scroll down to see photos and listen to calls.

Volunteers monitor a site of their choosing for at least 3 minutes (minimum of twice a week) throughout the breeding season, roughly February to August. It can be a favorite wetlands area, creek, or other amphibian habitat. Check out the flyer for more information.

Spring 2019 FrogWatch USA Trainings

Session 2
Thursday, March 28 AND Thursday, April 4 from 6:30–8:30 p.m. (must attend both days)

More Information
Contact the Zoo’s FrogWatch coordinators by phone (805) 962-5339, ext. 154 or email.

Trainings are free, but reservations are recommended. Register online.

It is essential that we understand the scope, scale, and cause of declines in frog and toad populations. FrogWatch volunteers have helped by gathering data for more than 10 years.

— Estelle Sandhaus, PhD, Santa Barbara Zoo Director of Conservation and Research
Frog Guide

Local Frogs & Toads

California chorus frog (treefrog)

An abrupt low-pitched quack

Photo: USGS

Baja California chorus frog (treefrog)

Stereotypical two part “kreck eck” or “rib bit” call

Photo: Chris Brown, USGS

Western spadefoot

A rolling trill lasting less than 1 second

American bullfrog

A series of loud resonant bass notes, sounding like “rumm rumm rumm”

Photo: Gary Nafis

Foothill yellow-legged frog

A faint, one-note, low-pitched, raspy series of 4-6 notes per second, with grunts, oinks, and rattling

Photo: John H. Tashjian

African clawed frog

A two-part trill, about ½ second, repeated frequently

Photo: Gary Nafis

Western toad

Like the weak peeping of baby chicks

California red-legged frog*

Series of weak throaty notes, rather harsh, lasting 2-3 seconds and ending with a distinct grunt

Arroyo toad*

Fast musical trill, about 6-10 seconds, rising in pitch, and ending abruptly

Call descriptions – all credited to Gary Nafis at
* listed under the Endangered Species Act

Want to explore the data?

Mapping, graphics, and more at the FrogWatch site.

Why are amphibians in decline?

Find out more about amphibians and their conservation.