Monday, May 11, 2020

Episode 524 (5-11-20): A Tour Around Sounds by Water-connected Creatures

Click to listen to episode (5:20)

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 5-8-20.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of May 11, 2020.

MUSIC – ~8 sec – instrumental

This week, that opening of “All Creatures Were Meant to Be Free,” by Bob Gramann of Fredericksburg, Va., sets the stage for an episode filled with mystery sounds of creatures related to water and found in Virginia.  This episode is designed especially for Virginia K-12 students whose science curriculum includes learning about the Commonwealth’s living creatures, also called organisms.  I’ll play a few seconds of sounds of 12 animals, ranging from tiny to tremendously large.  After each one, I’ll tell what the animal is and a little bit about its occurrence or habitat in Virginia. I hope you know ‘em all!  Here goes.

One.  SOUND - ~ 4 sec.  Several species of mosquitoes are common in Virginia and breed in a variety of still-water habitats.

Two.  SOUND - ~4 sec.  Deer flies, which annoy and bite during their flying adult stage, inhabit wetlands, ponds, marshes, or streams in their immature stages.

Three.  SOUND - ~5 sec.  The Atlantic Croaker, one of many fish species known to make sounds, occurs along Virginia’s coastline and in the Chesapeake Bay in warm weather.

Four.  SOUND - ~ 4 sec.  Gray Treefrogs are a common and sometimes loud amphibian found throughout [much of] Virginia.

Five.  SOUND - ~ 5 sec.  American Toad breeding in Virginia starts between March and April in temporary pools or ponds, where males advertise to females with long trills.

Six.  SOUND - ~7 sec.  The American Bullfrog is Virginia’s largest frog, found all over the Commonwealth in ponds, lakes, and still-water sections of streams.

Seven.  SOUND - ~3 sec.  Belted Kingfishers are fish-catching birds found around streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, and estuaries.

Eight.  SOUND - ~6 sec.  The Laughing Gull is one of 16 gull species whose occurrence has been documented in Virginia, out of 20 gull species known in North America.

Nine.  SOUND - ~4 sec.  The Red-winged Blackbird is often seen, and distinctively heard, around ponds, marshes, streams, and other wet areas.

Ten.  SOUND - ~6 sec.  Populations of the Bald Eagle have recovered dramatically in recent decades and our national symbol can now often be spotted along Virginia’s rivers.

Eleven.  SOUND - ~3 sec.  American Beavers, now found across Virginia after reintroduction starting in the 1930s, smack their paddle-like tail on the water as a defensive behavior to protect a colony’s territory.

And twelve.  SOUND - ~8 sec.  The Humpback Whale, which can be seen during migrations along Virginia’s coastline in winter, uses it song for breeding or other communication.

Thanks to for the mosquito sound; to Rodney Rountree for the Atlantic Croaker sound; to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and to Lang Elliott for the bullfrog sound; to Lang Elliott again for the Laughing Gull and Bald Eagle sounds; and to the National Park Service for the whale sound.  Thanks also to Bob Gramann for permission to use his music.

And thanks finally to all Virginia students for their efforts to keep learning through an unusually challenging spring 2020.


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“All Creatures Were Meant to Be Free,” from the 1995 album “Mostly True Songs,” is copyright by Bob Gramann, used with permission.  More information about Bob Gramann is available online at  This music was used by Virginia Water Radio previously in Episode 465, 3-25-19.

The mosquito sound was recorded by user Zywx and made available for public use on, online at, under Creative Commons License 1.0 (public domain).  More information on this Creative Commons license is available online at

The deer fly sound was recorded by Virginia Water Radio deer fly in Blacksburg, Va., on July 3, 2014.

The Atlantic Croaker sound was from Rodney Rountree’s “Fish and Other Underwater Sounds” Web site at; used with permission.

The Gray Treefrog sound was recorded by Virginia Water Radio in Blacksburg, Va., on June 10, 2011.

The American Toad sound was recorded by Virginia Water Radio in Blacksburg, Va., on April 3, 2017.

The American Bullfrog sound was from “The Calls of Virginia Frogs and Toads” CD, copyright 2008 by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Lang Elliott/NatureSoundStudio, used with permission.  Lang Elliott’s work is available online at the “Music of Nature” Web site,

The Belted Kingfisher sound was recorded by Virginia Water Radio in Blacksburg, Va., on January 19, 2018.

The Laughing Gull and Bald Eagle sounds were from the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs-Eastern Region CD set, by Lang Elliott with Donald and Lillian Stokes (Time Warner Audio Books, copyright 1997), used with permission of Lang Elliott.  Lang Elliott’s work is available online at the “Music of Nature” Web site,

The Red-winged Blackbird sound was recorded by Virginia Water Radio in Blacksburg, Va., on April 9, 2017.

The American Beaver sound was from a video recording by Virginia Water Radio at Toms Creek in Heritage Park in Blacksburg, Va., on June 2, 2012.  A 23-second segment of that video is available on YouTube at

The Humpback Whale sound was taken from a National Park Service recording (“Humpback Whales Song 2”) made available for public use on the “Community Audio” page of the Internet Archive Web site, at

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at


White-headed Eagle (a name formerly used for the Bald Eagle) painting originally published between 1827 and 1838 by John James Audubon in Birds of America, Plate XXXI (31), as reprinted in 1985 by Abbeville Press, New York.  The painting includes what Audubon called a Yellow Catfish caught by the bird.  Photo taken June 29, 2017, from the reprint copy (no. 6 of 350 copies printed in 1985) owned by Special Collections of Virginia Tech Libraries.  Virginia Water Radio thanks Special Collections for permission to photograph their copy and for their assistance.  Information about Birds of America is available from the National Audubon Society, online at


AmphibiaWeb, online at

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, “Atlantic Croaker,” online at

Robert A. Blaylock, The Marine Mammals of Virginia (with notes on identification and natural history), Virginia Institute of Marine Science, 1985; online (as a PDF) at

Chesapeake Bay Program, “Atlantic Croaker,” online at

Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, “All About Birds,” online at

Cornell University Lab of Ornithology and American Ornithologists’ Union, “Birds of North America Online,” at (subscription required).

Eric Day et al., “Mosquitoes and Their Control,” Virginia Cooperative Extension Publication ENTO 202NP, 2016, online (as a PDF) at

Nonny De La Pena, What’s Making that Awful Racket? Surprisingly, It May Be Fish, New York Times, 4/8/08.

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.

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

National Aquarium, “A Blue View: Fish That Make Sound,” 2/16/16, online at

Chandler S. Robbins et al., A Guide to Field Identification of Birds of North America (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001).

Rodney Rountree, “Soniferous Fishes,” online at

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

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

Virginia Department of Health, “Frequently Asked Questions about Mosquitoes,” online at

Virginia Herpetological Society, online at  Herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles.

Virginia Society of Ornithology, online at  The Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study, conservation, and enjoyment of birds in the Commonwealth.

J. Reese Voshell, Jr., Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America, McDonald & Woodward Publishing, Blacksburg, Va., 2002.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the following subject categories: Amphibians, Birds, Fish, Insects, and Mammals.

Following are links to other episodes about the creatures featured in this episode.

Mosquitoes – Episode 78, 9-5-11.
Deer flies (and other true flies) – Episode 484, 8-5-19.
Atlantic Croaker (and other sound-making fish) – Episode 77, 8-29-11.
American Toad – Episode 413, 3-26-18.
American Bullfrog – Episode 74, 8-8-11.
Belted Kingfisher – Episode 224, 7-28-14.
Laughing Gull (and other gulls) – Episode 518, 3-30-20.
Red-winged Blackbird – Episode 364, 4-17-16.
Bald Eagle – Episode 375, 7-3-17.
American Beaver – Episode 477, 6-17-19.
Whales – Episode 399, 12-18-17.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources of information, or other materials in the Show Notes.

2013 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2010 Science SOLs

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
2.5 – living things as part of a system, including habitats.
6.7 – natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Virginia watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

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

Life Science Course
LS.8 – community and population interactions, including food webs, niches, symbiotic relationships.
LS.9 – adaptations for particular ecosystems’ biotic and abiotic factors, including characteristics of land, marine, and freshwater environments.

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.

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

Following are links to other 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 333, 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, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.