Posts Tagged ‘frog song’


Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica)

Wonderful though it is to hear the voices of the returning migrant birds, the Song of Spring is not sung by birds. Rather, it is sung in trills and peeps and quacks by thousands of tiny frogs as they awaken from a long winter and seek to renew life itself.

I heard the first frog music a week ago, on the evening of Tuesday, April 15, after a lovely mild day. Since then, we’ve had some cooler days, even a dusting of snow, but the frog chorus is growing more persistent, more insistent.

Yesterday, I recorded a homophony of Western Chorus frogs and Wood frogs when I stopped by a wetland on my way home. Listen here:

The trilly voices are the chorus frogs, while the clacky, quacky voices are the wood frogs. It’s hard to believe that such tiny beings create such a clamorous outpouring. Chorus frogs range from about .75 to 1.5 inches long, while wood frogs are a bit larger, 1.4 to 3.3 inches in length.

Thanks to Seabrooke for the use of these two photographs of the tiny singers, which she took last Tuesday night.


Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris t. triseriata)

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At this time of year, country nights are not quiet. The air is filled with music, a cacophony of voices celebrating the renewal of life. I braved the mosquitos to record their song just as darkness was falling. You can hear the Peep! Peep! of the Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer); the short, throbbing trills of the Gray Treefrogs (Hyla versicolor); and the longer, extended trills of American Toads (Bufo americanus). The Adopt-a-Pond website offers excellent information about the amphibians of Ontario and you can listen to recordings of each species’ song. Not all frogs sing at the same time of year. The Wood Frogs are the first voices of spring, and then the Spring Peepers. The Bullfrogs are later, singing into summer.

Over the chorus of frogs is a recording of an American Woodcock (Scolopax minor) performing his mating display. Listen for his call, a nasal Peent! … Peent! … Peent! given from a grassy field. At 1:36, he begins his aerial display. Listen for the whirring of his wings as he flys high into the night sky. Three of his outer primary feathers are modified to produce a whistling flight sound. I could hear him as he continues his flight, but unfortunately the sound doesn’t come through on the recording until about 2:20, when the whistling begins to sputter and he gives a series of chirps as his flight ends in a ‘falling leaf’ descent to the ground. What female could fail to be impressed?

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When walking through the woods and along wet areas in the back field, I disturbed a few Northern Leopard frogs (Rana pipiens), who leaped away at my approach. One lingered long enough to have his photograph taken. A few Leopard voices were just beginning to join the chorus of Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer). The Wood frogs (Rana sylvatica), singing loudly just a week ago, were now quieter.

Leopard frogs usually overwinter in permanent waters, sitting on the bottom, tucked under the edge of logs or concealed beneath a layer of bottom silt. They move to shallower water for breeding in April or early May. The male’s advertisement call is described as snore-like, or like wet hands rubbing a balloon, followed by a series of chuckles. Amplexus, in which the male grasps the female’s body from above with his forelegs, allows him to fertilize the eggs externally as they are laid. Amplexus usually occurs in the evening. (Check out the great photos of breeding Wood frogs at The Marvelous in Nature.) An amplexed pair will often move to an area where other pairs have already deposited eggs to leave their own eggs. A female lays between 300 and 6,000 eggs in large masses. The eggs are usually attached to submerged debris, twigs or stems. Leopard eggs are black above and white below. Eggs hatch in one to three weeks, depending on water temperature and the tadpoles are ready to transform in two to three months. The little froglets reach mature size in one to three years and may live up to nine years, although few survive this long. In summer, Leopard frogs disperse away from water into meadows or other grassy places, where they absorb moisture from dew or damp soil through their skin.

The Adopt-a-Pond site had a great feature that offers information about frogs and allows you to listen to the songs of various frog species. Hop on over and check it out! (Sorry.) You can also learn about Frog Watch and the Ontario Turtle Tally.

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