A Guide to California's
Reptiles and Amphibians

Sounds of
Couch's Spadefoot - Scaphiopus couchii

Baird, 1854
Click the speaker icon to listen to an mp3 sound file.

Couch's Spadefoot
Male calling in breeding pool at night.

Couch's Spadefoot
Male and female in amplexus on a road above flooded wash breeding habitat.

Male frogs and toads sometimes make a variety of sounds. These calls can have different functions.

Advertisement Calls

The advertisement call is the most well-known call of a frog or toad. It is made by a male during the breeding season to establish his territory and repel rival males and to attract females as potential mates. Males usually make the call in or near bodies of water near areas that are attractive to a female as a good place to lay her eggs. Advertisement calls can be heard during the evening and at night, and often during daylight at the peak of the breeding season. Sometimes an advertisement call will be heard outside of the breeding season and away from water. The reason for this is not understood.

Each species has its own unique advertisement call. This is necessary to differentiate them when there is more than one species calling. The evolution of this specific male advertisement call and its recognition by females is considered to be an important isolating mechanism in the evolution of a species.

The call of Couch's Spadefoot is very loud nasal groan descending in pitch similar to a lamb bleating. Calls at night from the edge of temporary ponds.

Sound  This is a 16 second recording of the advertisement calls of a group of male Couch's Spadefoots calling from puddles at the edge of an irrigated agricultural field in Yuma County, Arizona (shown to the right) at night in August. Insects and a Rocky Mountain toad can be heard in the background.
Couch's Spadefoot habitat
Sound  This is a 15 second recording of the advertisement call of one close spadefoot made at the location shown to the right in Yuma County, Arizona. Other male spadefoots, insects, and a Rocky Mountain toad can be heard in the background.
Sound  This is a very short recording of a single call from a Yuma spadefoot.
Sound  This is a 33 second recording of a group of spadefoots calling from a flooded wash at night in Pima County, Arizona (shown to the right.) The night before the picture was taken, dozens of calling male Couch's Spadefoots lined the banks.

Couch's Spadefoot habitat

  This is a recording of a few spadefoots calling at night from a rain pool near Lajitas, Texas.
Waveform and Sonogram
Sound  This is a recording of a single advertisement call of a Couch's Spadefoot recorded at night in Yuma County, Arizona.
The image above is a visual representation of this call. Click on it to see a larger image.
Click here for information about how to read the waveform and sonogram images.
Short Videos
Couch's Spadefoot Couch's Spadefoot  
Male spadefoots call at night from a temporary rain pool.

Male and female spadefoots in amplexus in a temporary rain pool.  

You can listen to more recordings of Couch's Spadefoots on this cd:

Carlos Davidson - Frog and Toad Calls of the Pacific Coast

cd cover

and on the cd that comes with this book:

Lang Elliott, Carl Gerhardt, and Carlos Davidson - The Frogs and Toads of North America - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

book cover

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