Home > Columns > Chorus Frog


NatureSmart Column

Chorus Frog

Photo by Stan Tekiela

by Stan Tekiela
© NatureSmart

May 16, 2021

Spring is filled with so many cool and interesting natural things. The earth is awaking after a long and frozen sleep. Each year I am surprised when I hear my first frogs calling. It always seems too early or far too cold for frogs to be active and yet there they are.  When the snow melts and April showers fill small ponds, it produces the perfect conditions for the male Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata) to gather and start calling to attract females for mating.

Western Chorus Frogs require temporary wetlands or shallow ponds without fish to breed. Hundreds of male chorus frogs pack into these small wetland depressions or ponds to sing their hearts out in order to attract a mate. Like a well-rehearsed choir, the males sing an ascending trill-like b-r-e-e-e, lasting only 1-2 seconds. The call is often compared to the sound made when you draw your thumb down the teeth of a stiff comb.

The chorus frog is small compared to other, better-known frogs such as Leopard Frogs or Bull Frogs. It is only three-quarters to one inch long when measured from the tip of their nose to end of their torso. Or about the size of your thumbnail. Females are slightly larger than the males. Both can be identified by a dark stripe that runs through the eye and a pronounced white line that extends along the upper lip. The also have three dark stripes running the length of their body, called longitudinal stripes. 

While light brown is the most common color, they can be shades of green or red. The brown phase is predominant in warmer areas while the reddish and greenish morphs are found in the forested, or cooler regions.

The Chorus Frog feeds on small prey items such as aquatic insects but will take just about any other small terrestrial (land) insect they can catch such as spiders and flies.

While breeding, the female attaches masses of eggs (25-75) to submerged vegetation. An individual female can lay several hundred eggs per season. The eggs hatch within 12-16 days depending upon the water temperature. The warmer the water, the faster the egg development. After hatching, the tadpoles transform into adult frogs in eight to ten weeks.

  The Chorus Frog is among the first of the frog species to emerge each spring. How these frogs survive winter in nothing short of a miracle. Most people think that frogs over-winter buried in the mud at the bottom of lakes and ponds. Research is now showing that this is not true for most frogs. The Chorus Frog over-winters on land under rocks, and logs near the ponds they call home. Since they don’t dig down below the frost line, these tiny amphibians will partially freeze. Something that until recently was thought to be impossible.

In fall, the over-wintering frogs replace the water within each cell in their body with an anti-freeze like compound called glycol. While this reduces the temperature at which the cell will freeze, it doesn’t stop the cell from freezing. More importantly, the glycol doesn’t form pointed ice crystals that will puncture the cell wall like water will, thus allowing the cell to freeze but without damage to the cell. In spring the process is reversed and the frog’s thaws and wakes up. Sounds like something right out of a sci-fi move thriller. So this spring when you are out for a walk be sure to listen for the Chorus Frog calling from your local pond. Until next time…

 Stan Tekiela is an author / naturalist and wildlife photographer who travels the U.S. to study and photograph wildlife. He can be followed on www.facebook.com and twitter.com. He can be contacted via his web page at www.naturesmart.com.

The nationally syndicated NatureSmart Column appears in over 25 cities spanning 7 states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania. It is a bi-weekly column circulated to over 750,000 readers.

Recent Columns
Most RecentAbout Stan's Columns

Common Tern

Every now and then I meet a true wildlife superhero. You know, the kind of person who has dedicated their life to understand and protecting wildlife. And even after many decades they are still interested in learning more and doing the hard work that it takes to protect an endangered species....


Blackbirds always seem to get a bad rap and as the late Rodney Dangerfield was fond of saying, “they get no respect” in the bird world. I for one would argue that the blackbirds are an amazing group of birds and that if you knew just how special blackbirds are, you would think they...

Red-necked Grebe

The wide diversity of birds on earth should be a reminder to us all that the natural world is a place where life takes all shapes, colors, and forms. I was reminded of this recently while running my Loon photo workshop / tours. I like to surprise my clients with a “bonus bird” to...

American Redstart

The complexities of nature is sometimes hard to understand and even harder to justify or feel good about, especially when seen through the human lens. I was reminded of this the other day while filming a family of American Redstarts (Setophaga ruticilla) that is nesting on my...

Wildlife Photography Tours

Each year, during June and July, Stan Tekiela offers two world-class wildlife photography tours. Here's your chance to learn some tricks of the trade from a top professional.

» More Info

View all of the titles in the
NatureSmart Bookstore

Check out Stan's latest photos at
NatureSmart Wildlife Images

Do you have any interesting wildlife in your backyard? Any nesting birds, deer, turkeys, reptiles, amphibians, or other unique wildlife? Or maybe a fox or coyote den?

If so, contact Stan at stan@naturesmart.com with your backyard wildlife. If he can get a good photo of the subject, he will send you a print of the photo to hang on your wall.

» More Info

Order Prints and posters of Stan's photos at
» Prints & Posters

Hear Stan on radio stations all across the Midwest.
» More Info