This Harbinger of Spring… May Not Be What You Think!

I was laying in bed a few weeks ago, trying to fall asleep as the wind drove the rain against the side of my house, when I suddenly heard something. A sound I had been waiting for weeks to hear. I sat up in bed listening, not sure that I actually heard it, when suddenly, I heard it again. The clear, high-pitched “PEEP!” coming from a male treefrog known as the Spring Peeper singing by my pond just outside my window. Despite the cold front that was moving in, I knew that winter had finally lost its grip. How did I know this? Because these little frogs are the harbingers of Spring!

Spring Peepers start singing during the first warm rains of the season.

Spring Peepers start singing during the first warm rains of the season.

Here in Missouri, and in much of the northern part of their range, Spring Peepers are the first frogs to emerge from hibernation, and they start singing during the first warm rains of the season. On warm nights (I’m not a fan of being cold), I like to go out and look for them! I’m sure my neighbors have wondered, on more than one occasion, what the heck I was doing as I hovered by my pond armed with my camera and a headlamp strapped to my forehead! These little guys are hard to spot though and I usually have to stand really still until one of them starts singing again and betrays his location. Even then, I’ve spent many nights hearing them but not being able to find them.

I found this little guy hiding under one of my pond plants.

I found this little guy hiding under one of my pond plants.

Can you see the "X" on his back?

Can you see the “X” on his back?

Just to give you a little perspective as to how big they are.

Just to give you a little perspective as to how big they are.

Spring Peepers prefer shallow pools of water (or in my case, my 4×6-foot prefabricated pond) surrounded by lots of low-growing vegetation so they can hide from any predators. They are small frogs, only 3/4 – 1 1/4 inches, which may surprise you given the loud volume of their calls. As the nights get warmer, their calls get louder, to the point where they can often be deafening. They are different shades of brown, gray or olive and are identified by the dark cross on their back resembling an “X”. This coloring allows them to blend in easily with the dead plant debris leftover from the previous season, making them a challenge to find.

Whether I see them or not, I enjoy listening to these little amphibians. To me, they’re announcing that winter is finally over and warmer days are on the way!

What signs of Spring do you look for each year?

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9 thoughts on “This Harbinger of Spring… May Not Be What You Think!

  1. Pingback: Welcome Back Spring! I’ve Missed You! | My YARDVILLE

  2. I was roaming around a neighborhood near the river in town trying to find a spot to look for the frogs that were singing one evening last week. I finally had to give up, and I’ll try scouting for river access there when it’s light so I’ll know next time. The public park would’ve worked, but I deemed it too dangerous to go into the inky blackness under the bridge by myself. I was likely to find more life that just frogs there.
    Anyhoo, I was cracking up at your line about your neighbors thinking you’re crazy. The things we photogs do for a picture sometimes. My brother had a person stop their car and come to check if he had passed out when he laid on the sidewalk to get a macro of a tiny plant in the crack…lol. At least he knows his town still has good people in it. They called out, “Are you sick?” And he replied, “No, I’m a photographer.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • 🙂 Isn’t that the truth! I think I’m actually a source of amusement for some of my neighbors. But that’s OK. I’d rather make people laugh! 🙂 Good luck finding those frogs!

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