Banjos and Bullfrogs
Some frogs only sing in spring, but green frogs, American bullfrogs and others are on stage all summerlong. Male green frogs looking for mates belt out explosive twangs that sound a lot like loose banjo strings. More familiar sounds are the baritone jug-o-rums of male bullfrogs, which you can hear over a half mile away. Often mistaken for crickets, breeding American toads project high repeating trills, each lasting up to 20 seconds. Gray tree frogs make similar-sounding warbles but in 3-second bursts.
One place to enjoy these amphibian headliners is near the south shelter at Herrick Lake. If no one’s performing, listen for calls on a walk around the 1-mile Lake Trail. The grassy area by the pond near the Elsen’s Hill parking lot at West DuPage Woods is another popular spot.
A Little Night Music
Great horned owls end their mating calls in late winter but perform their well-known hoo-HOO-hoo-hoos all summer long. Screech owls belt out shrieking whinnies that can be both startling and impressive, especially for birds the size of pint glasses. In many wooded areas these birds are backed up by a looped score of trilling crickets, katydids, toads and tree frogs.
A site at the Blackwell family campground grants you admission to these nightly concertos, but so does a short visit to a preserve as the sun readies to set. DuPage forest preserves, after all, are open daily one hour after sunrise to one hour after sunset.
When bicycle tires roll over the fine grains of a crushed limestone trail (the most common type of trail in DuPage forest preserves) the friction creates a calming drone with the power to drown out far-off traffic.
At Hidden Lake, Greene Valley, Meacham Grove and other locations, American goldfinches, red-winged blackbirds, black-capped chickadees and dog day cicadas mix their vocals with the pleasing pedal-driven rhythm.
Down on the Farm
For sounds of DuPage from a century ago, spend some time at Kline Creek Farm. In addition to clucks, neighs and moos, on Saturday afternoons you can hear wood crackle in the blacksmith’s forge as hammer clangs against anvil and hot iron tools hiss as they’re dipped in water to cool. The toll of the bell at the top of the hour announces the start of another farmhouse tour, and the trickles of Klein Creek on the walk back to your car remind you to visit again soon.