Friday, April 1, 2016

Episode 310 (4-4-16): Many Frogs are Green, But Some are Actually Green Frogs

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, photos, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 4-1-16.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of April 4, 2016.

This week, we feature another mystery sound. Have a listen for about 20 seconds and see if you can guess what common amphibian is making the “thunk” sound. And here’s a hint: this animal’s looking for a mate, but NOT the famous Muppet Miss Piggy.

SOUNDS - 22 sec
If you guessed a Green Frog, you’re right! Despite the common name, this frog sometimes looks more brown than green, and some individuals may even appear blue! One of over 100 frog species in North America and 27 species in Virginia, Green Frogs are found throughout the Commonwealth and the eastern United States, inhabiting shorelines of streams, ponds, and lakes. In Virginia, they breed from May to mid-summer, and that’s when the sounds you heard are used for attracting mates and defending territory. If you happen to surprise a Green Frog, you might also hear a characteristic squeak that they make when jumping away from perceived danger. Green Frogs eat a variety of insects, crustaceans, fish, and other animals—indeed, according to one account from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, a Green Frog will eat any living thing it can capture and swallow! In turn, Green Frog eggs, tadpoles, and adults get eaten by various animals, including certain insects, fish, other frogs, reptiles, birds, and mammals, including humans.

Besides their place in food webs and other roles in nature and science, Green Frogs also play some beloved roles in art and culture. Kermit, the green Muppet frog, is famous, of course; but a more recent example is taking place this year in Blacksburg, Va. There, 16 Green Frog sculptures will mark a trail through the watershed of Stroubles Creek, a New River tributary. The creek and springs that feed it were important resources for founding the town in 1798, and the sculptures are intended to help educate 21st Century residents about the past and present of local water resources. The ceramic sculptures will be bronzed—just right, because a variety of Green Frog found in deep southern states is called the Bronze Frog.

We close with one more example of frog-inspired creativity: an instrumental version of “Five Green and Speckled Frogs,” a folk song used traditionally for teaching children to count. Thanks to Virginia musician Stewart Scales for this version; and don’t miss the Green Frog imitation at the end!

MUSIC - 23 sec

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at, or call us at (540) 231-5463. Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show. In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


The Green Frog calls heard in this episode were recorded by Virginia Water Radio in Blacksburg, Va., on May 30, 2015, and August 15, 2015; and in Leesburg, Va., on June 25, 2010.

“Five Green and Speckled Frogs” is a traditional folk song long used for children learning to count, according to the All Nursery Rhymes Web site, online at; and the Songs for Teaching Web site, online at (the song lyrics and a vocal recording of the song are available there). The banjo-and-guitar version in this episode was recorded for Virginia Water Radio by Stewart Scales on March 31, 2016.

A shorter focus on the Green Frog was featured in Virginia Water Radio Episode 23, 7-5-10.  Audio for that episode has been archived.


Green Frog in an artificial pond at a residence in Blacksburg, Va., April 29, 2007.

Two Green Frogs in a pond in Radford, Virginia, August 7, 2013.


Used in Audio

Mark A. Bee, Stephen A. Perrill, and Patrick C. Owen, “Male green frogs lower the pitch of acoustic signals in defense of territories: a possible dishonest signal of size?” Behavioral Ecology, Vol. 11, Issue, pp. 169-177, online at (for VT access).

L. Hager-Smith, “16 Frogs: A public arts tribute to the history and freshwater heritage of Blacksburg, Virginia,” online at

Bernard S. Martof, et al., Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1980.

Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Scientific And Standard English Names Of Amphibians And Reptiles Of North America North Of Mexico, Seventh Edition, 2012, available online at

Gregory K. Reid, Pond Life, Golden Press, New York, 1967.

U.S Geological Survey/Southeast Ecological Science Center, “Bronze Frog (Rana clamitans),” online at

University of Michigan Biokids Web site, “Green Frog/Lithobates clamitans,” online at

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Lang Elliott/NatureSoundStudio, “The Calls of Virginia Frogs and Toads” CD, 2008; online at, or contact the Department at 4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23230; phone: (804) 367-1000 (VTDD); e-mail:

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Virginia is for Frogs” Web site, online at

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia Fish and Wildlife Information Service, online at (click here for direct link for Green Frog Species Booklet).

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Wildlife Information/Species Information/Amphibians” online at Northern Green Frog entry online at:

Herbert S. Zim and Hobart M. Smith, Reptiles and Amphibians, Golden Books, New York, 1987.

For More Information about Amphibians in Virginia and Elsewhere

Lang Elliott, Carl Gerhardt, and Carlos Davidson, The Frogs and Toads of North America, Houghton/Mifflin/Harcourt, Boston and New York, 2009.

John D. Kleopfer and Chris S. Hobson, A Guide to the Frogs and Toad of Virginia, Special Publication Number 3, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Richmond, 2011; purchase information available online at

J.C. Mitchell and K.K. Reay, Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Virginia, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries/Richmond (1999); available online at, courtesy of the Virginia Herpetological Society. (Herpetology refers to the study of amphibians and reptiles.)

Virginia Herpetological Society, online at

For More Information about the Stroubles Creek/New River Watershed

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Surf Your Watershed,” online at (this site allows users to locate watersheds and watershed information across the United States).

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, “Virginia’s Major Watersheds,” online at; and “Hydrologic Unit Geography,” online at (the latter site provides detailed information on how watersheds are designated, plus access to interactive maps of Virginia’s watersheds).


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (; see specifically the “Amphibians” category.

Green Frogs were also included in the following episode:
A Frog Medley, Episode 148, 2/11/13.


This episode may help with the following Virginia’s 2010 Science Standards of Learning (SOLs):

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 - Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Life Processes Theme
2.4 - life cycles.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
2.5 - living things as part of a system, including habitats.
3.5 - food webs.
3.6 - ecosystems, communities, populations, shared resources.
4.5 - ecosystem interactions and human influences on ecosystem.
6.7 - natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; and water monitoring.

Life Science Course
LS. 4 - organisms’ classification based on features.
LS.6 - ecosystem interactions, including the water cycle, other cycles, and energy flow.
LS.8 - community and population interactions, including food webs, niches, symbiotic relationships.
LS.11 - relationships between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Earth Science Course
ES.8 - influences by geologic processes and the activities of humans on freshwater resources, including identification of groundwater and major watershed systems in Virginia.

Biology Course
BIO.8 - dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2008 Social Studies SOLs:

World Geography Course
WG.2 - how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.6 - past and present trends in human migration and cultural interaction as influenced by social, economic, political, and environmental factors.
WG.10 - cooperation among political jurisdictions to solve problems and settle disputes.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at