Night Sounds of Summer
The Frog Chorus of Spring and Summer
As the summer rains return in May, the amphibian chorus in the swamps and lowlands increases to its loudest pitch of the year. With the rain comes the mating time, and the evenings echo with the earnest croaks and calls of earnest suitors.
But these sounds also spill over into the daytime as the tiny frogs often prove more accurate at weather forecasting than the most sophisticated computers. They react to the change in humidity or barometric pressure, even during the daytime.
Impending rain sends the animals into a noisy state of anticipation that turns raucously delirious once the first drops start to fall. It takes only minutes for the cries to reach the fevered intensity of a wild political rally.
The thousands of froggy voices sometimes make it seem that every square inch of lowlands must be layered in piles of the animals, yet the cacophony always drastically under-represents the number present. It is only the males singing. Females are close to mute, and immature males also do not croak, rib-bit or quonk, quonk, quonk.
There are more than 50 species of frogs living in Florida and the Southeast, many of them a variety of tree frog. Like construction workers whistling to passing females, they have developed the practice of calling for a mate because it is the safest way to avoid predators. Performing individually, in public, with a display like some other animals use, is simply too risky.
Of course, the simple act of calling out also alerts predators, but there is safety in numbers, one reason why the calls are issued as a chorus. The combined sounds also carry farther to distant females.
Tree frog vocalizations cover a tremendous array. Some sounds are more like those of insects or birds than those normally associated with frogs. The names of some species in fact reflects their calls.
Barking tree frogs bark, squirrel tree frogs are raspy like a squirrel, the bird-voiced tree frog. have a high-pitched, bird-like whistle, and the southern spring peeper which "peep peeps."
The green tree frog. confuses the entire matter by issuing a tremendous variety of sounds that have been compared to a cow bell or a noise similar to "quonk, quonk, quonk," among others. The size of a frog helps determine the pitch of its call. Larger frogs have a lower pitch, smaller frogs a higher one.
Tree frogs tend to be heard far more often than seen because the markings and coloration
of many varieties closely resembles their surroundings. Furthermore,
many are quite adept at hiding under tree bark, in knotholes, or under
Go listen to your own frog chorus, always best after a rain.
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