Spring Clickers

Upland chorus frog in moss. Berkeley County, WV. ©Wil HershbergerIt is that time of year when the first frogs will be calling from the vernal ponds and streams here in West Virginia. One of my favorite sounds is that of the Upland Chorus Frog. These beautiful little frogs sing at night looking for mates in hopes of bringing the next generation into the world. Their upward pitched song, a rapid series of clicks, reminds some of the sound made by dragging a fingernail across the teeth of a comb.

I early March of 2009, I heard the following group of a dozen or so chorus frogs near my house. Moving every so slowly and quietly I made a furtive approach to the puddle where they were in concert. I placed the stereo mics close to the ground and very close to the edge of the water in hopes of creating a wide stereo field. Listening with headphones you would think that you were in the water with these guys:

A concert of upland chorus frogs in a vernal pond after dark. Berkeley County, WV. March 8, 2009. ©Wil Hershberger.

If you listen carefully you can hear that there are frogs calling from all around you. The stereo field was accentuated by having the mics so close to the frogs. They were spread out all around this small puddle of, perhaps, 10 feet in diameter.

I hope that you like this recording and the special circumstance under which it was made. The location is now an abandoned ATV race track. I doubt that I will hear any chorus frogs in that area this year – but there is hope that they will return. There is a new owner of the property and no ATVs have been run there for more than a year.

Comments

  1. Thanks Zack. Frogs are a great way to start the spring off. They make such great sounds.

  2. Zack Frieben says:

    Excellent recording! It does sound like your in the water with them, when you listen through headphones. It’s amazing how a whole group will call in just a 10 foot puddle. I miss the sounds of frogs as I speak.

    In Michigan, we have three species of chorus frogs: Spring Peeper, Midland Chorus Frog, and Boreal Chorus Frog. The Spring Peeper and Midland Chorus Frog are probably equally as common during the breeding season. The Boreal Chorus Frog has a very restrictive range and is scarce in Michigan. They are found in the western Upper Peninsula and Isle Royale.

    From what I’ve read, after breeding, chorus frogs remain secretive and very well hidden. Their presence may be given away by their rain calls, which can be made year round. In fact, about a week ago, I heard one calling.

  3. Thanks Wil! I have an Olympus LS-10 which I am learning to use, but I am a total beginner and making my share of dumb mistakes.

    @Miki–I am a GA NAAMP volunteer too! I do the Palmetto route. We went out on our window 1 run last night and heard Spring Peepers, Upland Chorus Frogs, Southern Leopard Frogs, Pickerel Frogs, American Toads, and (I am not making this up) one groggy, cold and disoriented-sounding Bullfrog. What the heck was he doing up already?

  4. Miki Fluker says:

    Hi Wil!

    This is Elizabeth Causey’s mom. Lang has been friends with us since Elizabeth was 7 years old (she is now 24) & she is blind. Elizabeth is a Georgia volunteer for NAAMP. She is very good, but has trouble distinguishing between the Upland & the Southern Chorus Frog. Can you give us some pointers & perhaps post a recording of the Southern Chorus Frog?

    • Miki and Elizabeth: I can’t really tell them apart. Their click rates are slightly different at the same temperature (the Southern is slower, I believe), but a hot Southern will have a faster click rate than a cold Upland. My best recordings of Southern Chorus Frogs are all fairly hot. I’ll see if I can drum one up to post.

  5. Hi Valerie,
    Here is a link that describes our recording equipment:
    http://www.old-miracle.mystagingwebsite.com/songsofinsects/recording.html
    Instead of the RDAT recorders, both Lang and I are using SoundDevices 700 series digital recorders.
    Lang also uses a Zoom H4n recorder that does a wonderful job:
    http://www.amazon.com/Zoom-Handy-Portable-Digital-Recorder/dp/B001QWBM62/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1298727548&sr=8-4
    I hope this help,
    Wil

  6. These guys should be out tonight in GA. I have a favorite site for listening to these guys and would love some recording tips, including what type of mics to use to get the effect of the place and how to set them up. Are you going to include any how-to posts on this blog, or can you recommend some?

  7. What a great recording! I love feeling like I’m in the middle of a group of frogs.

  8. such a joyful noise! I love the spring chorusing of frogs, and this is a new one for me. Kudos on another fine recording Will!

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