Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Episode 563 (2-8-21): Spring Beckons When Brimley's Chorus Frogs Start Calling

 Click to listen to episode (3:30)

Sections below are the following:

Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Extra Information
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 2-5-21.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of February 8, 2021.

SOUNDS  - ~3 sec

This week, we feature a late-winter or early-spring mystery sound heard in marshes, swamps, and woodlands of southeastern Virginia.  Have a listen for about 10 more seconds, and see if you can guess this amphibian advertising for a mate.  And here’s a hint: If you hop to it and get this right, your fans may be brimming over with a chorus of cheers.

SOUNDS  - ~8 sec 

If you guessed a frog, you’re right!  If you guessed a chorus frog, you’re a frog wizard.  And if you guessed Brimley’s Chorus Frog, you’re a Virginia chorus frog phenom!  You heard a Brimley’s Chorus Frog recording by Lang Elliott’s NatureSound Studio on the 2008 CD, “The Calls of Virginia Frogs and Toads,” from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, which, in 2020, became the Department of Wildlife Resources.  Amphibians are an integral part of Virginia’s common wealth of wildlife, and Brimley’s Chorus Frogs give us one of the year’s first reminders of amphibians, as the males of that species may begin their breeding calls as early as February, depending on temperature.  Brimley’s is found in wetlands and in hardwood forests near rivers and streams in the Coastal Plain of Virginia and states farther south.  There, this one-to-one-and-a-quarter-inch-long frog feeds on small insects and in turn can be prey for some kinds of snakes and probably other animals, although not much information is available on its predators.

Brimley’s is one of seven native chorus frog species in Virginia, all of which are in the scientific genus Pseudacris, derived from Greek words meaning “false locust,” presumably because their repetitive trilling recalls insect sounds.  The Brimley’s part of the name honors Clement Samuel Brimley, a native of England who became a highly regarded zoologist in North Carolina in the first half of the 20th Century.

Thanks to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources for permission to use this week’s sounds, and we let Brimley’s Chorus Frog have the last call.

SOUNDS  - ~4 sec


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 virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  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.


The Brimley’s Chorus Frog sounds were from “The Calls of Virginia Frogs and Toads” CD, copyright 2008 by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (now the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources) and Lang Elliott/NatureSoundStudio, used with permission.   The CD accompanies A Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia, Special Publication Number 3, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries; as of February 5, 2021, that publication is no longer available at Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources online store, https://www.shopdwr.com/.  For more information, contact the Department at P.O. Box 90778, Henrico, VA 23228-0778; phone: (804) 367-1000 (VTDD); main Web page is https://dwr.virginia.gov/; to send e-mail, visit https://dwr.virginia.gov/contact/.

Lang Elliott’s work is available online at the “Music of Nature” Web site, http://www.musicofnature.org/.

The Brimley’s Chorus Frog sound was used previously by Virginia Water Radio in Episode 464, 3-18-19, on chorus frogs generally.

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 http://www.bencosgrove.com.


Brimley’s Chorus Frog, photographed in Chesapeake, Virginia, February 28, 2019.  Photo by iNaturalist user jkleopfer, made available online at https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/20834796 (as of 2-8-21) for use under Creative Commons license “Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0.”  Information about this Creative Commons license is available online at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.


The scientific name of Brimley’s Chorus Frog is Pseudacris brimleyi.

The following information on Brimley’s Chorus Frog is taken from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (formerly Department of Game and Inland Fisheries), “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at online at http://vafwis.org/fwis/?Title=VaFWIS+Species+Information+By+Name&vUT=Visitor.  The Brimley’s Chorus Frog entry is online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?&bova=020003&Menu=_.Taxonomy&version=18663.

Physical Description

“This species ranges in length from 25 to 32 mm (1 to 1-1/4 inches).  The coloring is highly variable but typically this species is tan with 3 dorsal [back] brown stripes.  A dark brown or black stripe runs down each side from the nostril through the eye to the groin.  The ventrum [underside[ is typically yellow with brown spots on the chest.  The legs of this species are marked with dark longitudinal stripes.”


“This species breeds in winter and early spring (February to April) in marshes, shallow ponds, and ditches.  The males’ mating call is a short guttural or rasping trill.  The female deposits small loose clusters of eggs on stems or other objects in ditches or shallow ponds.  The tadpoles transform in 40-60 days.”

Behavior, Habitat, and Distribution

“Its primary prey items are small insects.  This species is primarily found in bottomland hardwood forests near rivers. …It has been suggested that this species requires low, riverine wetlands. …This species is found in lowland areas of open wet hardwood forests, marshes, swamps, ditches of the Coastal Plain.  Its distribution does not extend into northeastern Virginia.  It is mostly restricted to the Coastal Plain south of the Northern Neck, and it is the only chorus frog found in and east of the Dismal Swamp.”


Used for Audio 

AmphibiaWeb, online at https://amphibiaweb.org/index.html.  The Brimley’s Chorus Frog entry is online at https://amphibiaweb.org/cgi/amphib_query?where-genus=Pseudacris&where-species=brimleyi.

John D. Kleopfer and Chris S. Hobson, A Guide to the Frogs and Toads 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.

State Library of North Carolina et al., “NCPedia/Brimley, Clement Samuel,” online at https://www.ncpedia.org/biography/brimley-clement-samuel.  (Based on an article in Dictionary of North Carolina Biography [Six Volumes], William S. Powell, ed., University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1979-1996.)

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (now Department of Wildlife Resources), “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at http://vafwis.org/fwis/?Title=VaFWIS+Species+Information+By+Name&vUT=Visitor.  The Brimley’s Chorus Frog entry is online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?&bova=020003&Menu=_.Taxonomy&version=18663.  Entries for Virginia’s seven chorus frog species (in the genus Pseudacris) are at this link.  Entries for amphibians in Virginia are at this link. 

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, “Frog Friday/Brimley’s Chorus Frog,” online at https://dwr.virginia.gov/blog/frog-friday-brimleys-chorus-frog/.

Virginia Herpetological Society (VHS), “Frogs and Toads of Virginia,” online at https://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/amphibians/frogsandtoads/frogs_and_toads_of_virginia.htm.  The Brimley’s Chorus Frog entry is online at http://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/amphibians/frogsandtoads/brimleys-chorus-frog/brimleys_chorus_frog.php.  The VHS supports the scientific study of amphibians (frogs, toads, and salamanders) and reptiles (lizards, snakes, and turtles).

Virginia Legislative Information System, “Virginia General Assembly 2020 Session/Senate Bill 616,” online at https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?ses=201&typ=bil&val=sb616.  This is the bill that renamed the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries as the Department of Wildlife Resources.

For More Information about Amphibians in Virginia and Elsewhere

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 (as a PDF) at https://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/atlases/mitchell-atlas.pdf, courtesy of the Virginia Herpetological Society.

University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, “Animal Diversity Web,” online at https://animaldiversity.org.

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, “List of Native and Naturalized Fauna of Virginia, as of April 2018,” online (as a PDF) at https://dwr.virginia.gov/wp-content/uploads/virginia-native-naturalized-species.pdf.

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, “Virginia is for Frogs,” online at https://dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/virginia-is-for-frogs/.

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, “Wildlife Information,” online at https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/information/.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html). 

Following are links to some other episodes on chorus frogs.

Episode 105, 4-2-12 – on Spring Peeper.
Episode 206, 3-24-14 – medley of spring animal calls, including Spring Peeper.
Episode 408, 2-19-18
– medleys of frog and toad calls, including Mountain Chorus Frog and Spring Peeper.
Episode 464, 3-18-19 – on the chorus frogs group in Virginia (Brimley's Chorus Frog, Little Grass Frog, Mountain Chorus Frog, New Jersey Chorus Frog, Southern Chorus Frog, Spring Peeper, Upland Chorus Frog), with focus on a research study on Mountain Chorus Frog.
Episode 509, 1-27-20
– on Little Grass Frog (along with Wood Frog).
Episode 516, 3-16-20
– medley of spring animal calls, including Upland Chorus Frog.


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

2018 Science SOLs

Grades K-4: Living Systems and Processes
1.5 – Animals, including humans, have basic life needs that allow them to survive.
2.4 – Plants and animals undergo a series of orderly changes as they grow and develop, including life cycles.
2.5 – Living things are part of a system.
3.4 – Adaptations allow organisms to satisfy life needs and respond to the environment.
3.5 – Aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems support a diversity of organisms.
4.2 – Plants and animals have structures that distinguish them from one another and play vital roles in their ability to survive.
4.3 – Organisms, including humans, interact with one another and with the nonliving components in the ecosystem.

Grades K-5: Earth Resources
4.8. – Virginia has important natural resources.

Life Science
LS.6     – Populations in a biological community interact and are interdependent.
LS.7 – Adaptations support an organism’s survival in an ecosystem. 

BIO.8 – Dynamic equilibria exist within populations, communities, and ecosystems.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to 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.
Episode 524, 5-11-20
– on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20
– on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20
– on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade