Monday, February 19, 2018

Episode 408 (2-19-18): A Frog and Toad Medley

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (3:27).

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

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 2-19-18.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of February 19, 2018.

SOUND - ~5 sec – rainfall in Blacksburg, Va., April 21, 2015

This week, that sound of a Virginia spring rain opens an episode on creatures who show up, sound off, and pair up every year, especially in spring, in temporary ponds and other water bodies.  Have a listen for about 40 seconds to a series of mystery sounds, and see if you can guess what animals are making this variety of clucks, peeps, trills, and croaks.   And here’s a hint: when spring rains come, Virginia’s waters start jumping with these creatures.

SOUNDS - ~40 sec

If you guessed frogs or toads, you’re right!  Those were the calls of nine frogs and two toads, part of Virginia’s 27 native species of these two groups of amphibians.  As early as late January in the Commonwealth, some species—like the Wood Frog and Spring Peeper—move from overwintering habitats to temporary pools or other wet areas, where males use distinctive calls to attract females for breeding.  As spring and summer progress, Virginia’s ponds, rivers, and other aquatic areas resonate with chorus frogs, tree frogs, pickerel frogs, leopard frogs, bullfrogs, green frogs, and several kinds of toads.

Whether or not the weather at the moment looks or feels like spring, frog and toad calls are sure signs of seasonal changes in the air, on the land, and in the water.

Thanks to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and to Lang Elliott for permission to use several of this week’s sounds.


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 Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


This episode revises and replaces Episode 148, 2-11-13.

The calls heard in this week’s audio were the following (in order heard):
Wood Frog, Spring Peeper, American Toad and Spring Peeper chorus, Mountain Chorus Frog, Pickerel Frog, American Bullfrog, Carpenter Frog, Fowler’s Toad, Northern Cricket Frog, Green Frog, and Gray Treefrog.

The sounds of the Mountain Chorus Frog, American Bullfrog, and Carpenter Frog were excerpted from The Calls of Virginia Frogs and Toads” CD, copyright 2008 by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and Lang Elliott/NatureSoundStudio, used with permission.  The CD is part of the VDGIF’s A Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia.  For more information, visit, or contact VDGIF at 4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23230; phone: (804) 367-1000 (VTDD); e-mail:   Lang Elliott’s work is available online at the “Music of Nature” Web site,

The other amphibian sounds were recorded by Virginia Water Radio, as follows (again in the order heard in the episode):
Wood Frog – Huckleberry Trail near Christiansburg, Va., March 9, 2014;
Spring Peeper – Blacksburg, Va., March 13, 2010;
American Toad and Spring Peeper chorus – Blacksburg, Va., March 29, 2010;
Pickerel Frog – Peaks of Otter/Blue Ridge Parkway, April 19, 2011;
Fowler’s Toad – Along James River near Howardsville, Va., July 12, 2009;
Northern Cricket Frog – Along the Potomac River/C&O Canal Towpath near Boyd’s Landing, Md., July 10, 2010;
Green Frog - Leesburg, Va., June 28, 2010;
Gray Treefrog – Blacksburg, Va., June 10, 2011.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode. More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at


Shallow, temporary ponds, such as this one in Blacksburg, Va. (Montogmery County) on February 18, 2018, offer breeding habitat for frogs and other amphibians.
This Fowler’s Toad was calling beside the James River near Howardsville, Va. (Albemarle County), on July 12, 2009.
This Green Frog was found in an artificial pond at a residence in Blacksburg, Va., April 29, 2007.

Used for Audio

John D. Kleopfer and Chris S. Hobson, A Guide to the Frogs and Toad of Virginia, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Special Publication Number 3, Richmond, Va., 2011.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at

For More Information about Virginia Amphibians

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

J.C. Mitchell and K.K. Reay, Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Virginia, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Richmond, Va., 1999.

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

Virginia Herpetological Society, online at

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

For an account of Spring Peepers, their connection to ephemeral spring ponds, and the importance of amphibians generally, please see "Vernal ponds spring to life with peepers' serenades," in the April 2013 issue of Bay Journal.

For more information about amphibians breeding in ephemeral ponds in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, please see Catch the spring action at a vernal pool near you, Bay Journal, 2/8/18.  This article includes a list of local parks and other areas in the Bay watershed areas of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania that sponsor amphibian monitoring or viewing events.

If you’re interested in amphibians and particularly in frog calls, you might want to consider volunteering for the Virginia Frog and Toad Calling Survey, coordinated by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.  See information online at, or contact the department at (804) 367-1000.  The Virginia program is part of the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program.  These programs use the sensitivity of amphibians to water quality as a tool for assessing changes or threats to aquatic systems.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the “Amphibians” subject category.

Listed below are previous episodes on specific frogs or toads.
Barking Treefrog – Episode 319, 6/6/16;
Bullfrog – Episode 74, 8/8/11;
Carpenter Frog – Episode 148, 2/11/13;
Eastern Spadefoot – Episode 357, 2/27/17;
Gray Tree Frog – Episode 323, 7/4/16 (July 4 “debate”);
Green Frog – Episode 310, 4/4/16;
Spring Peeper – Episode 105, 4/2/12.


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

This episode may help with the following Virginia 2010 Science SOLs:

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

Grades K-6 Life Processes Theme
K.7 – basic needs and processes of plants and animals.
1.5 - animals’ basic needs and distinguishing characteristics.
2.4 - life cycles.
3.4 - behavioral and physiological adaptations.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
2.5 - living things as part of a system, including habitats.
3.6 - ecosystems, communities, populations, shared resources.
5.5 - cell structures and functions, organism classification, and organism traits.
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.8 - community and population interactions, including food webs, niches, symbiotic relationships.

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.

Following are links to previous Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.
Episode 250 (1-26-15) – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade;
Episode 255 (3-2-15) – on density, for 5th and 6th grade;
Episode 282 (9-21-15) – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten;
Episode 309 (3-28-16) – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade;
Episode 332 (9-12-16) – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade;
Episode 403 (1-15-18) – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade;
Episode 404 (1-22-18) – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade;
Episode 406 (2-5-18) – on ice on rivers, for middle school;
Episode 407 (2-12-19) – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.