Blue Mountain Frogscape

small photo of a Gray Treefrog, by Carl GerhardtFrogs and Toads can be a challenge to record. The problem is one of balance. If several species are involved, it is important that their sounds do not compete too much with one another, thereby turning the soundscape into a cacophonous “mush.” It is also important that calling individuals not be too close to the microphone; otherwise their calls may be too loud and overwhelming, especially if many individuals are involved. Loud calls might be okay for a brief recording designed to be used in an identification guide, but they are not okay if one desires a soundscape that the listener will enjoy for minutes on end.

Consider the following “frogscape” recording that I made in the summer of 1997 at a favorite location near Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York:

A mixed-species frog chorus recorded at 10pm on 22 June 1997 in the Adirondack Mountains not far from Paul Smiths, New York. Recorded by Lang Elliott.

This is a fairly dense recording (meaning there’s lots going on). The sounds of four species are clearly heard. The most prominent singers are the Gray Treefrogs (pictured above); listen for their brief melodic trills. Spring Peepers provide the high end, their shimmering peeps adding sparkle to the recording. In addition, Green Frogs give staccato gunk! calls throughout, and a Bullfrog sounds off occasionally with his rum … rum … rum … rum …

Do you like the balance here? I remember being very careful with microphone placement. The biggest challenge was getting some distance from the Spring Peepers, while at the same maintaining good levels of the other species. I think the result is pretty decent. The Gray Treefrogs are not at all overwhelming. The only thing I am tempted to do is lower the Spring Peepers a bit.

What’ya think? Should I fiddle with this recording, or just leave it as it is?


  1. I love the recording! I love the echoing quality of the Gray Treefrogs, and the peepers. I like the bullfrog and green frogs too. I like all the frogs.

    Every spring, my mom and I go to a wetland on Heimbach Road in Three Rivers, MI, just to hear the frogs. Here, Midland Chorus Frogs, Spring Peepers, Wood Frogs, and the occasional Northern Leopard Frog call here. We once saw a whole group of Wood Frogs call. I encouraged them to call by imitating their calls, which I did a fairly good job at doing. I also once saw a group of toads in a river, and imitated their calls, which caused every one in the river at once to call.

  2. I just love the frogs just the way they are. They bring back so many wonderful memories for me. Bless you for helping us all have a time of reflection.

  3. Lang, I have heard these gray tree frogs for ever.. never knew what they were (knew they were frogs, but what species) once again you have helped me to appreciate nature by ear.. don’t change a thing.. you captured it! Thank you!

  4. The beautiful sounds of nature send a 69 year old back to my youth while visiting the frog dam in north central pa thank you for giving me a trip back in time.I carried a box of frogs home to my bedroom one night, the next morn the walls were covered with the sounds of nature.

  5. It is a lovely recording. I thought I could hear American Toads in the background behind the Peepers, Green Frogs, Gray Treefrogs and Bullfrogs – true? The Treefrog and Peeper levels seem fine to me.

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