Arizona Public Radio | Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Earth Notes: Western Chorus Frogs

Western chorus frog
The Conversation/Shutterstock
Western chorus frog

In Arizona, the western chorus frog lives in ponds and springs along the Mogollon Rim. The males emerge in spring, singing their hearts out, day and night, for a mate.

One of 18 species of North American chorus frogs, western chorus frogs occur at elevations up to 11,000 feet. A cryoprotectant in their blood protects tissue from freezing damage. Not surprisingly, they begin singing earlier in spring than other frogs or toads in Arizona.

They overwinter as adults in a state of torpor. A male will extend its balloon-like throat above water to sing. Eggs are laid on underwater vegetation. The tadpoles consume algae and develop into adults over several months. The adult frog is up to an inch and a half long, and colored olive, brown or gray.

Western chorus frogs eat insects, and are preyed upon in turn by birds, fish and other predators.

In Northern Arizona they can be found in tanks, ponds and lakes, mysteriously reaching fairly isolated water sources. They do expand their ranges in wetter years, migrating to new water sources.

Amphibians are losing ground worldwide to pollution and habitat loss, with a 4% annual decline in populations in the United States in recent years. They are important indicators of ecological health. That’s why hearing them call in the spring is a sign of hope.

This Earth Note was written by Gwendolyn Waring and produced by KNAU and the Sustainable Communities Program at Northern Arizona University.

Gwen Waring is a painter, writer and ecologist based in Flagstaff, AZ. A great love of natural history keeps her working to understand the way things work on the Colorado Plateau. She has written several books on regional natural history, as well as a column called Nature Notes for the Arizona Daily Sun. The columns are currently being configured into a book that will be released in 2024.
Related Content
  • The Ajo Lily is the only species of its genus, an unusual phenomenon known to botanists as ‘monotypic.’ Also known as the Desert Lily, this relatively rare plant grows in one of the hottest, driest places on earth.
  • All over the country, cameras are snapping photos of wildlife in what’s become a fairly common practice. Researchers, wildlife managers, conservationists, community scientists, and property owners install cameras on trees, near water sources, or at places where animals may gather or pass through.
  • Recent genetic testing of Hopi corn is revealing insights about its evolution from varieties grown thousands of years ago, to the varieties grown by Hopi farmers today.
  • Stinknet is true to its name: it’s a plant with an overwhelming and off-putting turpentine odor. Also known as Globe Chamomile, it has bright yellow flowers the shape of golf balls and carrot-like dark green leaves. It’s native to South Africa.