Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Episode 649 (2-20-23): Another Spring's Approach Calls for Another Frog and Toad Medley

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:45).

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 2-17-23.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the weeks of February 20 and February 27, 2023.  This is a follow-up to a similar episode from February 2018.

SOUND - ~6 sec

That sound of a mid-February rainfall in Blacksburg, Va., opens an episode on creatures who show up, sound off, and pair up every year, starting in mid- to late winter, in temporary pools and other water bodies.  Have a listen for about 50 seconds to a series of mystery sounds, and see if you can guess what animals are making this variety of peeps, clicks, clucks, and honks.  And here’s a hint: the first warm rains of each year jump-start these creatures.

SOUNDS - ~52 sec

If you guessed frogs and toads, you’re right!  Those were the calls of the following nine frog or toad species: Little Grass Frog; Upland Chorus Frog; Southern Chorus Frog; Coastal Plains Leopard Frog; Green Treefrog; Squirrel Treefrog; Oak Toad; Pine Woods Treefrog; and Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad.  These nine are part of Virginia’s 28 native species of frogs and toads.  Starting as early as January for some species—like the Little Grass Frog—frogs and toads move from overwintering habitats to temporary pools, ponds, streams, marshes, or other wet areas, where males use distinctive calls to attract females for breeding.  As spring arrives and progresses into summer, Virginia’s aquatic areas attract a procession of species with different breeding and calling periods.

Whether or not the weather at the moment looks or feels like spring, early 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 Wildlife Resources, formerly the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and to Lang Elliott for permission to use this week’s sounds, from the 2008 CD, “The Calls of Virginia Frogs and Toads.”

We close with some music for frogs and toads.  Here’s about 20 seconds of the tune of “Five Green and Speckled Frogs,” a folk song used traditionally for teaching children to count, in an instrumental version recorded for Virginia Water Radio by Virginia musician Stewart Scales.

MUSIC - ~22 sec – instrumental.


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 this episode.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


This Virginia Water Radio episode follows up a previous “Frog and Toad Medley” in Episode 408, 2-19-18; species included in that episode (in the order heard in the episode’s audio) were Wood Frog, Spring Peeper, American Toad, Mountain Chorus Frog, Pickerel Frog, American Bullfrog, Carpenter Frog, Fowler’s Toad, Northern Cricket Frog, Green Frog, and Gray Treefrog.

The rainfall sound was recorded by Virginia Water Radio in Blacksburg on February 17, 2023.

The sounds of the frogs and toads heard in this episode were excerpted from “The Calls of Virginia Frogs and Toads” CD, copyright 2008 by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (now the 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 16, 2023, 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/.

“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 http://allnurseryrhymes.com/five-little-speckled-frogs/; and the Songs for Teaching Web site, online at http://www.songsforteaching.com/folk/fivegreenandspeckledfrogs-lyrics.php (a vocal recording of the song is available there). The banjo-and-guitar version in this episode was recorded for Virginia Water Radio by Stewart Scales on March 31, 2016, used previously in Episode 310, 4-4-16.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at http://newstandardbluegrass.com.

The sequence of calls heard in this week’s audio follows generally the order in which the different species begin their annual breeding call period, according to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, “Virginia Frog Phenology (Calling/Breeding Periods),” online (as a PDF) at https://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/education/edu-graphics/frog_and_toads/va-frog-and-toad-phenology-updated-02-21-2022.pdf.

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.


Green Treefrog at Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge, located along the Mississippi River at the Illinois-Iowa border, August 2016.  Photo by Jessica Bolser, made available for public use by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library, online at http://digitalmedia.fws.gov; specific URL for the image was https://digitalmedia.fws.gov/digital/collection/natdiglib/id/31556/rec/1 (as of 2-20-23).

Coastal Plains Leopard Frog, photographed at Assateague Island National Seashore in Virginia (Accomack County), April 7, 2019.  Photo by Joe Schell, made available on iNaturalist at https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/22151626 (as of 2-20-23) for use under Creative Commons license “Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)”  Information about this Creative Commons license is available online at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Oak Toad (location and date not identified).  Photo by Matthew Niemiller, made available on iNaturalist, online at https://www.inaturalist.org/guide_taxa/8512 (as of 2-20-23), for use under Creative Commons License “Attibution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)”; for more on that attribution category, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/.

Upland Chorus Frog, photographed in Farmville, Virginia (Prince Edward County), February 16, 2023.  Photo by Ty Smith, made available on iNaturalist at https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/148942454 (as of 2-20-23) for use under Creative Commons license “Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)”  Information about this Creative Commons license is available online at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/legalcode.

Images (as well as sounds, range maps, and other information) of other frogs and toads found in Virginia are available from the Virginia Herpetological Society, “Frogs & Toads of Virginia,” online at https://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/amphibians/frogsandtoads/frogs_and_toads_of_virginia.htm.


Below are the scientific names (in italics) of the frog and toad species mentioned in this Virginia Water Radio episode.  The names are according to the 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/.

Coastal Plains Leopard Frog – Lithobates sphenocephalus.  (This species was formerly known as the Southern Leopard Frog).
Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad – Gastrophryne carolinensis.
Green Treefrog – Hyla cinerea.
Little Grass Frog – Pseudacris ocularis.
Oak Toad – Anaxyrus quercicus.
Pine Woods Treefrog – Hyla femoralis.
Southern Chorus Frog – Pseudacris nigrita.
Squirrel Treefrog – Hyla squirella.
Upland Chorus Frog – Pseudacris feriarum.


Used for Audio

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 (now Department of Wildlife Resources), Richmond, Va., 2011.

Virginia Herpetological Society, “Frogs & Toads of Virginia,” online at https://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/amphibians/frogsandtoads/frogs_and_toads_of_virginia.htm.  Herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles.

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/.  This site has detailed information on life history, distribution, habitat, and other aspects of species.  Information specifically for the frogs and toads mentioned in this episode is at the following links:
Coastal Plains Leopard Frog
Eastern Narrow-mouthed Toad
Green Treefrog
Little Grass Frog
Oak Toad
Pine Woods Treefrog
Southern Chorus Frog
Squirrel Treefrog
Upland Chorus Frog

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, “List of Native and Naturalized Fauna in Virginia, August 2022,” online (as a PDF) at https://dwr.virginia.gov/wp-content/uploads/virginia-native-naturalized-species.pdf.

For More Information about Frogs, Toads, and Other Amphibians in Virginia and Elsewhere

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

J.C. Mitchell and K.K. Reay, Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Virginia, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries/Richmond (now Department of Wildlife Resources), 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/.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), “ARMI (Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative),” online at https://armi.usgs.gov/.

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, “A Guide to the Salamanders of Virginia,” online at https://dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/salamanders/.

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, “A Guide to Virginia’s Frogs & Toads,” online at https://dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/frogs-and-toads/.

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


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

Following are links to other episodes that feature or mention the species noted in this episode.

Episode 482, 7-22-19 – on the Oak Toad (along with Southern Toad).
Episode 509, 1-27-20
– on the Little Grass Frog (along with the Wood Frog).
Episode 515, 3-9-20
– on the Coastal Plains Leopard Frog.
Episode 516, 3-16-20 – a spring sounds, including that of the Upland Chorus Frog.
Episode 620, 3-14-22
– on the chorus frog group, including the Little Grass Frog, Southern Chorus Frog, and Upland Chorus Frog (along with several others).


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.10 – Change occurs over time.
1.7 – There are weather and seasonal changes; including that changes in temperature, light, and precipitation affect plants and animals, including humans.
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.7 – Populations change through time.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at https://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching-learning-assessment/instruction.

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 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.