Tinklers, Pippers and P’teekers

El Yunque Landscape Photo

The Common Coqui (Eleutherodactylus coqui) is not the only member of the genus to inhabit the forests, fields, and roadsides of Puerto Rico. I believe there are sixteen species altogether. While I made no effort to search them all out, I did stumble upon several having interesting calls.

My favorite (other than E. coqui) is a frog I have named “Beautiful Tinkler.” I never actually saw one, so it is possible this is an insect and not a frog at all. The tinkler inhabits moist grassy areas next to rainforest. It’s jumbled tinkling calls are a delight to behold. And in almost every occasion that I have found them, there was the very high-pitched shuffling of long-horned katydids.

Below is my best example of Beautiful Tinklers, heard along with Common Coquis, katydids, crickets of some sort, and possibly yet another frog that gives a high-pitched dry trill sounding like tk-tk-tk-tk-tik:

Beautiful Tinklers and other frogs and insects recorded in El Yunque National Forest. March 2013. Copyright Lang Elliott.

Another standout frog I have named the “Pip Frog,” a species whose call is a rapidly-repeated liquid pip or peet. I found this species calling in groups in wet, grassy seeps along highways and sometimes in low, wet areas in rainforest. An additional species of frog was often found in the same habitat, its metallic call sound like p’teek! As you might have already guessed, I’ve christened it the “P’Teek Frog”. In the following recording, listen for all three species calling, along with several kinds of insects:

Pips, T’Deeks, and Common Coquis recorded in El Yunque National Forest. March 2013. Copyright Lang Elliott.

Well folks, this is the last of my “on location” Puerto Rico blog posts. We leave today at noon and I will be back in Ithaca by evening. I hear it has snowed a good six inches, so I am likely to return to a whitened landscape. Quite a contrast … hot tropical rainforest at noon and then snow covered hills by evening. What a wonderful trip this has been, a magical week in spent in caribbean tropical rainforest.

I am now intimately familiar with what it’s like to bask in a chorus of coquis, and my memories of their calls are unlikely to fade anytime soon. I fully expect to hear them in my dreams for months to come, even as I embrace the unfolding of spring and summer in the wonderland I call home.

Let the following recording officially mark the end of my journey… a small stream in the rainforest recorded at first light this morning. Enjoy the gurgling of the water, the calls of coquis, the high-pitched shuffles of a katydid (for those with excellent hearing), and the splats of dewdrops hitting palm leaves overhead:

Stream at dawn with Coqui frogs, recorded along highway in central Puerto Rico, March 2013. Copyright Lang Elliott.

Let me know what you think!

El Yunque Landscape


  1. Lang,

    I love your recordings. I just got back from El Yunque and was lucky enough to have a wonderful rainy afternoon to bring out the frogs. Unfortunately, the rain was enough that we couldn’t walk the trails at Casa Cubuy because of tremendous flooding so I was reduced to recording frogs along the road all the way down the mountain.

    I believe your “pip” frogs are Leptodactylus labilis.

    Your p’teek frogs (I called them t’deek frogs while in the field) are Eleutherodactylus antilliensis. The upward “fingernail across the comb” call is also this species. I’m not sure the significance of both calls. The latter call reminds me of some of the US Chorus Frogs.

    I believe your “beautiful tinklers” are Eleutherodactylus brittoni, although I like your name better.

    For comparison, I have a few recordings of these species from this same area on my blogsite if you are interested in comparing (frogcalls.blogspot.com). My recordings are fairly sterile compared to your beautiful soundscapes, but they might help narrow down your species. I based my IDs on the recordings on the CD in Juan Rivero’s Amphibians and Reptiles of Puerto Rico.


    • Chris:

      Thanks for the potential IDs. When I produce my “Coqui” soundscape CD, I’ll get back to you about this. I actually had most of my recording ID’d by a guy who works on the genus in Puerto Rico. So we will be able to compare notes in that respect.

      I’ll be sure to check out your recordings later today!


  2. I love listening to the songs of nature that you work so hard to get and record, particularly the frogs but I have one complaint… They aren’t long enough!! I would love to have a CD of just frogs that have beautiful songs to sing in their habitats but have never found one. Alas, I keep your emails so I can go back & listen when I need to hear the peeps. But Spring is here in VA and, though still very cool for this time of the year, the peepers are singing on occasion and our Favorite bird family is back trying to nest in our overhead front door lamp as they do every year. We call them “pea wits” because we don’t know what kind of birds they are but that is what they sing on a spring dawn to welcome the day. Thank you so much for sharing the beauty of our planet! I enjoy listening so much!

    • Nancy,
      That bird may be a phoebe. It says its name, and they often nest in cubbyholes and shelf-like areas on buildings.

      • Thanks Nancy and I agree. It’s probably a Phoebe, a commonplace early spring singer around human habitations. Listen closely and you’ll notice there are actually two song variations. One is the standard “fee-beee” with the terminal “beee” being buzzy in quality. The other songtype has a more liquid ending and sounds something like “fee-breetit”, at least to my ear. Ever noticed that?

        • Yes! Mostly when they first come back in the spring. I just always thought it might be a mating variation. Thanks!

  3. Wonderful and pristine! These sounds are what I have longed to know separated from the ceaseless hum and throb of our over crowded urban lives.

  4. Lang,

    My wife has a question… do frogs of same/similar species in Puerto Rico have a spanish accent…are there any islands in the world, where a frog makes the same sounds as the same types we have here or are they all completely different.

    One of the reasons I downloaded your “Insect Lullabies” was in hope of getting a little more restful sleep and it does help. It seems alittle weird but its very soothing and is almost like they are in the room with me. The reality of it all unfortunately is the reason my wife prefers to sleep in another room.

    • Tom:

      In answer to your wife’s question, it is true that virtually every frog on the planet will have its own unique call. However, I’m sure that if one did a survey, one would find lots of examples where un-related species in widely separated places have developed similar-sounding calls. From an evolutionary standpoint, the important thing would be for each species in one particular area to have distinct calls, so that they can easily home-in to their own species during breeding.

  5. Love this! Playing it over and over while reading emails. Beautiful. I loved hearing the coquis when I was in old San Juan on vacation over 20 years ago. Thanks for memories.

  6. I actually played each one back and forth, back and forth, and it made a little symphony! Thank you so much for these sounds of nature.

  7. The coqui photo at the end is an individual that was on our cabin wall at a field station in the mountains just south of Maricao, in western Puerto Rico. Bob illuminated him with a headlamp spotlight and I took the pic. Sweet little frogs, these darling coquis.

  8. Wow! Makes me wish our peeps were going, which I think will happen this weekend. Will warm up to 50’s Woodcocks going and many spring migrants.

  9. Thanks for such beautiful music of nature 🙂 it is a wonder that you could record something like this in central Puerto Rico. It means, it is possible to be close to nature in a city. Good luck, for other cities too 😉
    Take care

  10. You know, Lang you make me so jealous!!! I wish I could go all the places that you do. I want to hear all the amazing nature sounds that you do for REAL…. 🙂 Your work is great.

  11. Beautiful stuff as always. Those tinklers have such a watery quality. I guess that is appropriate in a rain forest.

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