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The hopeful high-pitched trills of Upland Chorus Frogs in wet meadows and shallow pools offer the first promise of the coming spring in both the Jackson Purchase Region and in southeastern Kentucky. Eager males often start calling on sunny afternoons in January when the air temperature is only in the 40's. As the season progresses, the choruses grow much louder and the frogs can be heard both day and night. The major breeding period for chorus frogs runs through March and well into April, but by the first of May the calling males are few and far between.
The chorus frogs are among Kentucky’s smallest amphibians; full-grown males are only 1 ½ inches long and the biggest females may approach 2 inches. Even in large choruses, these frogs are surprisingly difficult to find, hiding in dense grass and leaf litter at the edge of the water with only the tip of the nose exposed. When approached, a chorus frog quickly disappears beneath the surface and hides under the water in vegetation. Adult Upland Chorus Frogs are tan to dark brown in color with three narrow stripes - sometimes broken up into rows of spots - running lengthwise down the body. Some are plain-colored and have no stripes at all.
After breeding, these chorus frogs live on land in habitats ranging from pastures and weed fields to wetland borders, low wooded areas, and even forested hillsides.
The calls of Upland and
Midland Chorus Frogs are quite similar and biologists are still trying to work out ways to distinguish between them by sound. Each calling male produces a song that resembles the sound made by firmly running a thumbnail along the teeth of a hard plastic comb. In chilly weather, the calls are very slow and the individual clicks are widely spaced, but on warm nights they all seem to run together. When only a few are singing some males call alternately in pairs or trios.