Calls of Frogs and Toads of the Northeast

Presented roughly in the order that they are heard through the season.

CREDITS: Photos and descriptions taken from Frogs and Toads of North America by Lang Elliott, Carl Gerhardt, and Carlos Davidson. Photos © Lang Elliott, unless otherwise indicated. Recordings © Lang Elliott.

Spring Peeper

Spring Peeper © Lang Elliott The advertisement is a nearly pure-tone whistle or peep that rises slightly in pitch from beginning to end. It is a loud and piercing call, given about once per second or faster. Distant choruses sound like the jingling of sleigh bells. The aggressive call is a stuttering trill, reminiscent of the calls of chorus frogs: purrrreeeek, usually rising in pitch at the end. Squeaky peeps (rain calls) are given periodically by individuals from shrubs and trees in late summer and autumn.

Wood Frog

Wood Frog © Lang ElliottThe advertisement call is a relatively soft, ducklike cackling: ca-ha-ha-ac, ca-ha-ha-ac, ca-ha-ha-ac, sometimes given in a rolling series. From a distance, a chorus sounds like a gathering of miniature ducks quacking.

Boreal Chorus Frog

Western Chorus Frog © Suzanne L. CollinsThe advertisement call, which lasts a little over a second, is a rapid series of metallic clicks that rise in pitch: crrreeeeek! Calls are typically repeated one after the other, with two or three seconds of silence in between.

Northern Leopard Frog

Northern Leopard Frog © Lang ElliottThe advertisement call is a drawn-out rattling snore lasting three seconds or longer, usually followed by various soft grunts or chuckled notes. Snores start soft and grow louder before trailing off at the end.

Pickerel Frog

Pickerel Frog © Lang ElliottThe advertisement call is a soft grating snore lasting about two seconds (the snore of the Northern Leopard Frog lasts much longer and is followed by soft grunts). Garbled, throaty notes are occasionally given, along with a staccato guck! that sounds much like the call of the Green Frog.

American Toad

American Toad © Lang ElliottThe advertisement call is a long musical trill lasting from five to thirty seconds. Each male in a chorus calls at a slightly different pitch, and individuals often alternate and overlap calls in a pleasing manner. When mounted, males and unreceptive females give release chirps accompanied by abdominal vibrations.

Fowler’s Toad

Fowler's Toad © Lang ElliottThe advertisement call is a nasal, buzzy trill lasting from one to five seconds: waaaaaaaaaaa! Sounds somewhat like a baby crying and has been described as a wailing scream. Fowler’s Toads hybridize with American Toads, and the calls of hybrids are usually intermediate in both harshness and duration between the calls of the parent species.

Gray Treefrog

Gray Treefrog © Carl GerhardtThe advertisement call is a melodious trill lasting about half a second and repeated every few seconds. The pulse rate of the trill is about half that of a Cope’s Gray Treefrog at the same temperature. Squeaky chirps or weeps are given during aggressive encounters between males. Release calls, which are produced by both genders, sound very similar to the aggressive calls.

Green Frog

Green Frog © Lang ElliottThe advertisement (and territorial) call is an explosive, throaty gunk! that resembles the sound made by plucking a loose banjo string. Calls are usually delivered in a short series, dropping slightly in pitch and volume from beginning to end: GUNK!-Gunk!-gunk! During an encounter, a male may give a stuttering series of guttural notes that have a Bullfrog-like quality, followed by a sharp staccato note. An abrupt iCUP! may also be given, and frightened individuals often squeak or chirp when leaping into water.

Bullfrog

American Bullfrog © Lang ElliottThe advertisement call is a series of loud, resonant bass notes sounding like rumm . . . rumm . . . rumm, or a stuttering ru-u-u-ummm . . . ru-u-u-ummm (often transliterated as “jug-o-rum”). The aggressive call is an abrupt, spitlike phphoot! A frightened individual, especially a juvenile, may give a loud eeek! when it leaps into the water.

Mink Frog

Mink Frog © Suzanne L. CollinsThe advertisement call is a series of about four sharp woody raps, cut-cut-cut-cut. Aroused individuals produce rolling, stuttered series of calls: grrruut-grrruut-grrruut-grrruut.

Eastern Spadefoot

Eastern Spadefoot © Dick BartlettThe advertisement call is an explosive, nasal utterance, usually down-slurred and sounding like a person gagging: errrrrrrah! Calls are repeated every five to ten seconds. The male has a large vocal pouch. When calling, he throws his head upward and backward out of the water, and the nictitating membranes (inner eyelids) cover his half-closed eyes.

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