Why do I love listening to frog calls? Well, the answers to that question have their origins way back into the lives of my prehistoric ancestors; long, long ago.
|Three Hours Full Moon Pig, Green Tree and Cricket Frog Melodies|
There are recordings of almost every frog known to live here in the Florida wilds in my sound library. Some of my favorite local frogs and their calls are; pig frogs, green tree frogs, leopard frogs, bullfrogs and many more.
One of my all time favorite frog calls comes from the Southern cricket frog, Acris gryllus.
The click-click-click calls of Southern cricket frog choruses remind me of my childhood, having grown up in Hialeah on the fringes of the frog filled Everglades.
However when I look at just why frogs and I 'click' together I see many more reasons than just familia nostalgia.
Anatomically speaking, humans and frogs share similar designs in middle and inner ear structure. Frogs though, instead of having an outer ear like humans, have a tympanum, an outer membrane covering that acts like an exterior ear drum. This specialized audio adaptation allows frogs to hear very low frequency vibrations; vibrations I refer to as earth whispers.
With their highly developed hearing ability frogs can detect even the faintest noise an approaching predator makes. Over the eons our ancestors came to rely on listening to nighttime frog calls for signals that all was safe and well around the camp. When the frog choruses would suddenly go silent, well then it was time to be on the lookout for whatever was stirring in the surrounding bush.
As long as frogs were calling from the forests around the camp our ancestors could be safely assume the area was free from danger. They could then sleep well knowing all was clear. From an evolutionary perspective, frog call cues have in their own way truly shaped human behavior traits.
Additionally, frog calls also usually indicate the presence of nearby water and a well developed ecosystem, habitat traits our ancestors would have sought out.
I am convinced that over deep time our human brains began to subtly associate night frog calls with the idea of a safe space to sleep and that is one of the reasons I like listening to frog call audio at night.
But not only do frog calls provide me with a sense of relaxation, they also are rich in music rhythm, key, tone and meter.
The rhythmic and repetitive nature of frog calls usually provide me with a sense of calm and relaxation. Science has shown that natural sounds can lower levels of cortisol and other stress hormones and also slow heart rate. This soothing effect can help us feel more connected to the natural world, fulfilling much of our nature connect need that can't be fulfilled in the city.
On a pure biological level, frog calls are refined vocal attempts to attract females. Females respond best to the most beautiful calls/songs. As such, I find that different frog species calling together create amazing nighttime musical symphonies of brilliantly composed vocalizations; soothing music to relax by, full of healing vibrations, tapping frequencies; amazing audio creations.
Moreover, most frog choruses are not only designed to attract mates but to also confuse predators. An alpha male frog usually leads the group chorus where he is followed by other frogs in different locations around the pond who then call out in a delayed or offset rhythm. The time lag between calls of the lead frog and others is barely perceptible to human ears but to predators like birds and reptiles the offset vocalization rhythm interferes with the predators ability to assess the location of the calling frogs.
This group defense strategy is referred to by biologists as the 'precedence effect'. The precedence effect is similar in concept to the double strands of electric fences farmers install around their crops to confuse deer.
Frog calls can also gently engage our involuntary attention without demanding much cognitive effort. This helps our directed attention—which we use for most cognitive tasks—to relax, allowing for mental restoration. After an afternoon of hectic farm work here, frog background 'music' really does help me refocus from the outdoor problem solving analyses to focus on blogging, writing, doing research or even doing my qigong exercises.
Finally, advertisements (calls) are just a small part of the human/frog relationship. Xenobots, medicines, infrasounds, frog based cultural practices and understandings of broad ecological concepts are topics for further frog posts. Today however, simply listening to frog calls offers us humans so much. We just need to take the time to listen and pay attention.
The above Soundcloud link will take you to a three hour frog call audio clip I recently recorded in the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. The recording is primarily of green tree frogs, pig frogs, Southern cricket frogs, Southern field crickets, mole crickets, cicada and other wildlife.
Hope you enjoy and benefit from the frog calls as much as I do.