The Sultry Sounds of Spring, Identified

Janalee Caldwell is a noted herpetologist who works on dendrobatids (poison arrow frogs) in the Amazon. A professor at OU and curator of herpetology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, she has kindly identified the sounds of the amphibious love-fest in the sound clip below.

I listened to your frog calls twice and actually I could only hear American Toads and Southern Leopard Frogs. The SLFs make a variety of sounds, so I suspect you are hearing their lower-pitched balloon call and the higher chuckling call. Soon the gray treefrogs should start there, but it is still a tiny bit early for them.

I also dug around in my art archives for some kind of drawing of a leopard frog. Turns out I have one: it’s a design for a small figurine , part of a series of fairies, mermaids, and gargoyles I created for a company here in Oklahoma. The notations are there for the sculptors and manufacturer to follow. The frog is wearing a floppy wizard hat and is giving some sort of advice (probably, “eat more flies”) to the young fairy maiden nearby who is listening with scepticism. If a frog in a funny hat gave me advice, I’d think it over very carefully before doing anything rash.

Wise Council Frog

I took my little point ‘n shoot digital camera outside last evening, not to take a movie but to make a sound recording. The most amazing noises were coming out of my goldfish pond. When the storms are coming, frogs and toads get amorous. If you listen to this clip, you’ll hear American toads (the high pitched trill), Southern leopard frogs (the deep, rubbery sound that sounds like someone constructing balloon animals at a kid’s party) and something else, which I hope someone out there can identify for me. I think it’s a frog. And if I got the other identifications wrong, please set me straight. To listen, click on the link below.

Frog Songs in Oklahoma

9 thoughts on “The Sultry Sounds of Spring, Identified

  1. Selma says:

    Now that is what you call an inspiring chorus. I hope we continue to hear them for many years to come and don’t completely destroy their habitats. How lovely!

  2. Durand says:

    That was really cool. I love night sounds, especially insects and frogs. I’ve never heard that ‘balloon’ sound before in my life! I would guess a frog too. I’m very curious.

  3. Kelly Ryan (TR's sister) says:

    Frog sounds are nice, until they are right outside your bedroom window, and the sound actually belongs to mating toads. I have been known to go toad fishing at 2:00am with bed hair, house shoes and a net. I have an entire system set up. Put them in a bucket with a lid with airholes, leave early for work to go to local pond and drop them off. I hope your pond is a little further away. Hug my brother if you should see him again. What a great guy…Huh….


  4. wrjones says:

    What a neat illustration.

    Does you friend have a blow gun? I’ve often wondered how they make long hollow straight pipes out of natural materials.

  5. Mary says:

    You have a delightful blog here! I came over from T.R.’s.

    Your sound clip reminded me that it’ll be a while before I need to either close the windows or turn the volume up on the television. It’s an exciting time of year when my koi pond is loaded with frogs and toads – noisy critters that they are!

    Both you and Julie inspire me to draw and paint a bird.


  6. lynette says:

    i couldn’t manage to hear the clip, but i expect it’s similar to what i hear in my back garden every spring. i am always amazed that still, in the city, there are tiny frogs and toads capable of making such a ruckus.

    every now and then, i find them stuck to windows in the back door, drawn by the kitchen light, their little round pad feet holding them perfectly still on the glass.

    i, too, hope we can get a grip on the destruction of habitat so terribly affecting wildlife in this country and in the world. i never see horned toads any more, bats are few and far between. such a tragedy.

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