Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Episode 618 (2-28-22): Frogs and Music for Moving from Winter to Spring

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:06).

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 2-25-22.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of February 28, 2022. 

MUSIC – ~17 sec – instrumental.

That’s part of a medley called “Late Winter/Corbin Hill,” by Andrew and Noah VanNorstrand, from their 2004 album, “Driftage.”  It sets the stage for the last episode in Virginia Water Radio’s series this year of winter-related episodes.  We start with a bit more of the music, and then we drop in on a recent evening at a seasonal pond in Blacksburg, Va., where the calling and mating of two frog species was marking a turning point from winter towards spring.  Have a listen for about 30 seconds, and see if you know these two frogs.

MUSIC  - ~16 sec – instrumental. 

SOUNDS  - ~16 sec. 

If you guessed Wood Frogs (the background clucking) and Spring Peepers (the loud chorus), you’re right!  You heard the mating calls of males of these two species, recorded this year on February 23.  That evening in Blacksburg brought temperatures in the fifties following about an inch of rain.  The first occurrence in mid-to late winter of that kind of warm rainy period typically brings Wood Frogs to that pond for a short mating period of a few days.  Spring Peepers, on the other hand, usually call and mate at that location for several weeks, well into spring.  Capturing sounds of Woods Frogs and Spring Peepers together—the former associated with late winter and the latter with spring—was a lucky happenstance for Virginia Water Radio, a bit of amphibian audio adventure to mark the end of this year’s winter-episode series.  I invite you to visit virginiawaterradio.org for access to the rest of the winter series, as well as to other thematic series on spring, watersheds, groundwater, human biology, and water in U.S. civil rights history.

Thanks to Andrew VanNorstand for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with about 15 more seconds of the “Late Winter/Corbin Hill” medley, followed by some late-winter parting calls from Wood Frogs.

MUSIC  - ~14 sec – instrumental.

SOUNDS  - ~9 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 Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this episode.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“Late Winter/Corbin Hill,” from the 2004 album “Driftage,” is copyright by Andrew and Noah VanNorstrand and Great Bear Records, used with permission.  More information about Andrew and Noah and their bands is available online at https://andrewandnoah.bandcamp.com/album/andrew-and-noah-band.

The sounds of Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs together were recorded by Virginia Water Radio in the evening February 23, 2022, at a seasonal pond along Toms Creek in Heritage Park in Blacksburg, Va.  The closing Wood Frog sounds were recorded by Virginia Water Radio in the morning of February 25, 2022, at a human-made pond in a Blacksburg neighborhood.

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 http://newstandardbluegrass.com. 


Seasonal pond in Heritage Park in Blacksburg, Va., February 21, 2022.  Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs were calling at this site at 7 p.m. EST on February 23, 2022.

Human-made pond in a neighborhood in Blacksburg, Va., February 25, 2022.  Wood Frogs were calling at this site at 10 a.m. on that day.


Spring Peeper

The scientific name of Spring Peeper is Pseudacris crucifer.

The following information on Spring Peepers is taken from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (formerly Department of Game and Inland Fisheries), “Fish and Wildlife Information Service/Spring Peeper Life History Chapter,” online at https://services.dwr.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?Menu=_.Life+History&bova=020071&version=18711, as of 2-28-22.

Physical Description

“This species ranges in length from 19-35 mm (0.75-1.5 in).  Dorsal coloration can be yellow, tan, brown, gray, or olive with a distinctive dark X-shaped mark.  The northern subspecies found here in Virginia has a plain or virtually plain belly.  There is typically a dark bar-like marking between the eyes.  Males have dark throats and are usually smaller and darker than the females.”


“This species breeds from February through May in woodland ponds, swamps, and ditches.  Choral groups are found where trees or shrubs are standing in water or nearby.  Mating call is a high piping whistle repeated about once every second.  A large chorus resembles the sound of sleigh bells.  Sometimes an individual exhibits a trilling peep in the background of a large chorus.  Females lay an average of 900 eggs per clutch.  Eggs are laid singly and attached to submerged vegetation or other objects.  Eggs hatch in an average of 6 days.  Metamorphosis occurs in an average of 45 days though a range of 3 to 4 months is also reported.  Individuals typically reach sexual maturity at 1 year.”


“This species inhabits woodlands under forest litter or within brushy undergrowth.  They are particularly abundant in brushy secondary growth or cutover woodlots if they are close to small temporary or semi-permanent ponds or swamps.  Specimens are rarely seen outside of the breeding season though occasionally an individual can be found traveling through the woods by day in wet weather.  Their diet consists primarily of small arthropods. This species may fall prey to large spiders.  This species has been shown to tolerate temperatures of -6 degrees Celsius for 5 days.  At the end of that period, approximately 35% of body fluids were frozen.  This and other species that tolerate extreme cold temperatures were shown to have high levels of glycerol in body tissues during the winter.  Glycerol is absent from body tissues in the summer.  …This species requires marshy ponds, ditches, and swamps with proximal shrubs.”

Wood Frog

The scientific name of Wood Frog is Lithobates sylvaticus.

The following information on the Wood Frog is quoted from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (formerly  Department of Game and Inland Fisheries), “Fish and Wildlife Information Service/Wood Frog Life History Chapter,” online at https://vafwis.dgif.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?Menu=_.Life+History&bova=020019&version=18270, as of 2-28-22.

Physical Description
“This species ranges in length from 35-83 mm (1.5-3.25 in).   It has a distinctive dark "mask" extending back from the eye.  Dorsal [top] coloration varies from nearly pink to shades of brown to nearly black.  Females are typically more brightly colored and larger than the males.”

“This species is often described as an explosive, short-term breeder.  In this region, breeding often takes place over just a few days in February or March.  The breeding cue is typically temperature with males sometimes heard calling when ponds are still iced over.  Male breeding call is a raspy clacking sound similar to the quacking of a duck.  Breeding adults gather in large numbers. Females lay globular masses of eggs often closely aggregated and attached to submerged plants or other objects in shallow pools.  Mean clutch size is 1750 eggs. …This species prefers ponds, slow portions of streams, and ditches for breeding.”

Behavior, Feeding, and Habitat

“This species is adapted to the cold and ranges farther north than any other North American amphibian or reptile.  It appears very early in the year, and males are often heard calling before ice-out on the ponds. …Apart from the breeding period, individuals are typically found in or near moist woods often far from open water.  They hibernate under detritus or logs in wooded ravines.  This frog feeds primarily on insects, especially beetles and flies. …In Virginia, this species is found in the mountains and in scattered locations across the Piedmont and northern Coastal Plain.  It is typically found in or near moist woods frequently far from open water.”


Used for Audio

Konstantin Bikos, “When is the First Day of Spring 2022?”  Time and Date, online at https://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/spring-equinox.html.

John D. Kleopfer and Chris S. Hobson, A Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia, Bureau of Wildlife Resources Special Publication Number 3, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (now Department of Wildlife Resources), Richmond, Va., 2011.

From National Weather Service Blacksburg Forecast Office, “Observed Weather/Preliminary Monthly Climate Data,” online at https://www.weather.gov/wrh/Climate?wfo=rnk.

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (formerly Department of Game and Inland Fisheries):
Fish and Wildlife Information Service, online at https://services.dwr.virginia.gov/fwis/.  The Spring Peeper entry is online at https://services.dwr.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?Menu=_.Taxonomy&bova=020071&version=18711; the Wood Frog entry is online at https://services.dwr.virginia.gov/fwis/booklet.html?&bova=020019&Menu=_.Taxonomy&version=19051.

Virginia Herpetological Society, online at https://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/index.html (herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles).  The Spring Peeper entry is online at https://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/amphibians/frogsandtoads/northern-spring-peeper/northern_spring_peeper.php; the Wood Frog entry is online at https://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/amphibians/frogsandtoads/wood-frog/wood_frog.php.

For More Information about Amphibians in Virginia and Elsewhere

AmphibiaWeb, online at https://amphibiaweb.org/index.html.

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.

Alan Raflo, “Out of the Water, But Not Forever” (an introduction to amphibians), Virginia Water Central Newsletter, April 2001, pages 6-12, online at https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/49321.

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

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (formerly Department of Game and Inland Fisheries):
“Frog Friday: Where Do Frogs Go in Winter?” December 11, 2015, online at https://dwr.virginia.gov/blog/frog-friday-where-do-frogs-go-in-the-winter/;
“List of Native and Naturalized Fauna in Virginia, August 2020,” online (as a PDF) at https://dwr.virginia.gov/wp-content/uploads/virginia-native-naturalized-species.pdf;
“Virginia is for Frogs,” online at https://dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/virginia-is-for-frogs/;
“Wildlife Information,” online at https://dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/information/ (this page lists wildlife animals found in Virginia, with links to species accounts).


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Amphibians” and “Weather/Climate/Natural Disasters” subject categories..

Following are links to episodes focusing on Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs.

Spring Peepers – Episode 570, 3-29-21.
Wood Frogs –
Episode 509, 1-27-20.

Following are links to other episodes with groups of frog/toad calls.

Chorus Frogs Group – Episode 464, 3-18-19.
Frog and Toad Medley – Episode 408, 2-19-18.
rp Blitz (survey by the Virginia Herpetological Society) – Episode 371, 6-5-17.
Spring Serenade 2014 Edition –
Episode 206, 3-24-14.
Spring Serenade 2020 Edition – Episode 516, 3-16-20.

Following are links to several other winter-related episodes, including episodes on some birds that reside in Virginia typically only in winter (listed separately).

Frost – Episode 597, 10-4-21.
Freezing and ice – Episode 606, 12-6-21 (especially for grades K-3).
Ice on ponds and lakes – Episode 404, 1-22-18 (especially for grades 4-8).
Ice on rivers – Episode 617, 2-21-22.
Polar Plunge® for Special Olympics – Episode 356, 2-20-17.
Snow physics and chemistry – Episode 407, 2-12-18 (especially for high school grades).
Snow, sleet, and freezing rain – Episode 613, 1-24-22.
Snow terms – Episode 612, 1-17-22.
Surviving freezing – Episode 556, 12-21-20.
Winter precipitation and water supplies – Episode 567, 3-8-21.
Winter weather preparedness – Episode 605, 11-29-21.
Water thermodynamics – Episode 610, 1-3-22.

Bird-related Episodes for Winter

Audubon Society Christmas Bird CountEpisode 607, 12-13-21.
American Avocet – Episode 543, 9-21-20.
Brant (goose) – Episode 615, 2-7-22.
Canvasback (duck) – Episode 604, 11-22-21.
Common Goldeneye (duck) – Episode 303, 2-15-16.
Green-winged Teal (duck) – Episode 398, 12-11-17.
Grebes (Horned and Red-necked) – Episode 233, 9-29-14.
Loons – Episode 445, 11-5-18.
Fall migration – Episode 603, 11-15-21.
Northern Harrier – Episode 561, 1-25-21.
Snow Goose – Episode 507, 1-13-20.
Tundra Swan – Episode 554, 12-7-20.
Winter birds sampler from the Chesapeake Bay area – Episode 565, 2-22-21.


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.

2020 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.”

2018 Science SOLs

Grades K-4: Living Systems and Processes
K.7 – Plants and animals have basic needs and life 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 and Space Systems
K.9 – There are patterns in nature.
1.7 – There are weather and seasonal changes.
2.7 – Weather patterns and seasonal changes affect plants, animals, and their surroundings.
3.7 – There is a water cycle and water is important to life on Earth.
4.4 – Weather conditions and climate have effects on ecosystems and can be predicted.

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

Grade 6
6.6 – Water has unique physical properties and has a role in the natural and human-made environment.
6.8 – Land and water have roles in watershed systems.

Life Science
LS.7 – Adaptations support an organism’s survival in an ecosystem.
LS.8 – Change occurs in ecosystems, communities, populations, and organisms over time.

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 (* indicates episode listed above in the “Related Water Radio Episodes” section).

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 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
*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.
*Episode 606, 12-6-21 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.