Sunday, November 1, 2015


Especially after a rain, the night air on Vieques is filled with the incessant love songs of the Coquí. These loud love cantos Come from the Coqui’s vocal sac, which swells to amplify their calls. The Coqui songs we hear are male mating calls, first to warn off other males and then to attract prospective females.

Coquí is the word that was given to these frogs by our native Taino Indians. As such, the Coquí is a symbol of Puerto Rico, and an important part of our island culture. Three species are native to Vieques.

The most common Coquí on Vieques has two distinct calls, the first call sounds like Chu-RE', Chu-RE; hence its common name in Spanish: Coquí Chur-RE and their second call sounds like a stalling car: 'Keh-keh-keh-KA'. This is the sound males make to warn other males away.

Collectively, the Coquí sound produces the same decibel level as a running lawn mower, though much sweeter in tone—5 basic tones to be exact. They are loudest in the early evening, before dawn, and when it is humid. These nocturnal predators and lovers, spend their days sleeping. Their nightly hunts include eating ants and spiders among other bugs. Singing duels occur when one male challenges another. The loser is the first to miss a beat of cadence.

The Vieques Fish & Wildlife Refuge has surveyed the island & Confirmed what our ears have told us, that we have a healthy native Coqui population. Our three species, on average, range from the half inch Pitito to the most common Coqui that is two inches from snout to vent.

Unlike most frogs, the Coquí’s toes & fingers are web-LESS, as they do not require water to live in or to reproduce. Coquí females deposit their eggs on leaves and males take care of the eggs once laid. These eggs bypass the Tadpole Stage and emerge with limbs as independent froglets.

Our native Coquis reproduce year round, but it is said their collective songs peak during the wet season. A wet season is what we have been longing for after the drought & water restrictions that have our land & gardens parched. Like the Coquís’ scientific genus- name, which translates into “free toes,” many of us humanoids feel especially footloose and fancy free under the spell of the enchanting night music of the Coqui. I think of their cantos as the sweetest lyrics on our Isla Nena. 

Here’s hoping that there will be rain and a Coqui chorus of male mating calls by the time you hear this.

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