What's All the Singing About?

The range map shows where you'll find Spring Peepers. Are they in your area? In a frog breeding pond, just who is doing the singing? Who is listening? And what do the songs mean? Learning about Spring Peepers can give us some answers.

Range of the Spring Peeper
(Pseudacris crucifer)

Male's Sweet Serenade
Frog expert Madeleine Linck tells us that it's generally the male frog doing the calling during breeding season. (She notes that many modern herpetologists refer to it as "calling.") While females can be vocal (they have a release call), it is only the males that call to attract females. Males get to the breeding ponds first, and will be calling when the females arrive.

Amphibian Advertising
According to Madeleine, the males' calls are known as "advertisement" calls, and they are very specific calls to attract females. The high pitched "peep, peep" call is a classic advertisement call. Madeleine tells us that experts Stebbins and Cohen conclude in their book, A Natural History of Amphibians, that the advertisement calls are species identification signals. Only Spring Peepers will follow the location of a spring peeper chorus. There is also a trill call thought to be for territorial spacing. A trill call tells an intruding male that he is getting too close to another. James Harding, author of Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region, believes that females may favor males that give louder and faster calls.

Try This! Journaling Questions
  • Why do you think a female might be more attracted to a louder, faster call?
  • Is there some strategy in the call?
  • What might the calls tell a female about the male?