Sounds of North American Frogs

Smithsonian Folkways, 1998

Sounds of North American Frogs     Photo: Courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways

First issued in the 1950s but finally reaching a wide audience at millennium’s end (coincidence?), Sounds of North American Frogs is an aural encyclopedia of native species, alone and in group settings, interspersing frog and toad calls with the distinctively Eisenhower-era narration of herpetologist Charles M. Bogert. No less than 57 species are spotlighted here—everything from Hyla crucifer (the spring peeper) to Rana grilio (the pig frog) to Scaphiopus bombifrons (the plains spadefoot toad)—and the sheer variety of chirps, barks, trills, and whistles they produce is astounding. Bogert’s narration, meanwhile, with its alternating focus on regional ephemera and obscure acoustical detail (pulsation rates, cycles per second), is its own kind of priceless.

DID YOU KNOW: Remembered mainly as the force behind the 1950s folk revival, Moses Asch’s Folkways label, acquired by the Smithsonian in 1987, was also a field-recordings giant, releasing everything from Sounds of Insects to Sounds of the Annual International Sports Car Grand Prix of Watkins Glen, N.Y.

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