Coqui Magic Night

El Yunque National Forest stream sceneWe arrived safely in Puerto Rico on Thursday afternoon and made our way without incident to the Casa Cabuy Ecolodge on the south edge of El Yunque National Forest. Quite a beautiful location, but we were disappointed to find that loud stream noise permeated the entire area … without doubt, we will have to hike into the high country to find a good spot for recording.

photo of Common Coqui

Common Coqui chorus featuring a close individual, recorded around 2 am in the cool of the night. 22 March, 2013. El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico. Copyright Lang Elliott, All Rights Reserved.

At nightfall, the coquis (the Common Coqui and several related species) began singing in earnest. Excited at the prospects, we grabbed our gear and hiked up a road that quickly transitioned into a wet trail through forest, grassy clearings and muddy spots. The road used to go all the way to the top of the mountain, but a large landslide about halfway up destroyed it many years ago.

After an hour or two of hiking, we came upon the landslide. Bob was having trouble with new boots causing blisters, so he decided to stay put. I forged (blundered?) ahead, following the trail up and beyond, and by midnight I had pulled away from the valley stream noise and I no longer could hear the distant sounds of motorcycles and cars from inhabited areas far below.

Lang chatting about his coqui experience. Early am, 22 March, 2013. El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico. Copyright Lang Elliott, All Rights Reserved.

In the wee hours of morning, I enjoyed a pristine nighttime rainforest experience. The frog and insect chorus mellowed with cooling temperatures, and I spent several hours looking for pleasing mixtures of sounds that would convey the magic that I heard and felt. Periodically, I would lay down on the trail, shut my eyes, and listen, mesmerized and entranced by the beautiful, dreamy chorus. What an incredible night it was, among the most poignant of my recording adventures.

Several coqui frogs interacting vocally to produce a magical auditory effect. Early am, 22 March, 2013. El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico. Copyright Lang Elliott, All Rights Reserved.

El Yunque forest habitat


  1. Dear Mr. Elliott, you are a treasure yourself! Coquis ARE magic, yet of the many people I know who’ve been to PR, no one knew what I was talking about when I mentioned coquis. I myself fell in love (the love of my life, at age 50) amids the coqui concertos in a charmed garden of a charming B&B (sadly burned down since) on Vieques, PR. Hearing them again was quite a jolt, now that I’m a half a world away & love is gone– I’ll keep listening to them. My heart-felt thanks! MD

  2. Hi Lang! Long time no blog! A lot of stuff has happened since the last time you blogged. I’m way behind, knowing just now that you’re in Puerto Rico. The coquis sound pretty, and soon here in Michigan, there should be frogs calling.

    At Lake Michigan, I saw Redheads (Athya americana) for the first time in my life on March 16. That’s one of the many things that’s happened since the last time you blogged.

  3. This recording made me even more impatient to hear spring peepers here in the Northeast – thank you for sharing!

  4. Truly magical Lang. I know how tough it is to get that perfect effect in a recording and you nailed it right on, great work! It’s so wonderful that you can experience such pure magic, and better still that you can share it with the world!
    Thanks so much!

  5. I’ve been to El Yunque, but on a group hike so not as far off the beaten path as this. The coqui are loud! And some of those trails are steep. This is a really nice recording.

  6. thanks for posting – This is great!!! Love the sound of the Coqui — I’m looking forward to the next posting 🙂

    • Coquis don’t always sound pretty. In fact, in the area around the ecolodge they are simply deafening. I had to work hard to find lesser concentrations that had a more poetic effect … from a human sentiment point of view. In the wee hours of morning, when temperatures cool, the whole mood of the chorus changes. And that is precisely when I got my most magical recordings.

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