Quacks & Peeps – the Sounds of Spring

Post updated on March 21, 2012: Audio of wood frogs trilling in the meadow can be found on blog by fellow Master Naturalist Martha Johnston 

The “quack” of wood frogs and the “peep” of spring peepers will greet you as you arrive at the Oregon Ridge Nature Center at this time of year. Head to the meadow, or the vernal pool, to listen closeup and try to catch a glimpse of the little frogs. Their symphony of sound is the male frogs calling to females to come join them at the pond and mate with them.

Wood frogs and spring peepers are considered the harbingers of spring, as they are the first of the species to awaken from their winter freeze and head to the water to breed.

Both wood frogs and spring peepers spend the winter hibernating in the woods. But when the snow melts and temperatures rise, the frogs thaw and awaken and migrate to a nearby pool or wetland. As amphibians they need a water environment to mate and lay their eggs, and for the tadpoles to mature. They hide from predators in the grasses and bushes around the edge of water holes.

The sound of a wood frog is a “quack” like a duck. With a large group, like we have at Oregon Ridge, it can sound fairly raucous. Spring peepers “peep” (it resembles a cricket sound) – a group of peepers sounds like the rustling of sleigh bells.

Wood frogs are active during the day; spring peepers typically call at night but will call on days with warm afternoons. In the afternoons I’ve visited Oregon Ridge, both the wood frogs and spring peepers have been calling, making a merry-sounding soundscape.

After breeding and laying their eggs over the next few weeks, the frogs will leave the water & go off to live the rest of the year in the adjacent woods.

This chorus of frog courting and mating is not limited to Oregon Ridge. You can hear their quacking and peeping from grasses along wet areas such as gullies, ditches, and other wet areas.

Our resident wood frogs and spring peepers were a bit camera-shy. Instead we give you a pic of one of our green frogs, photograph courtesy of fellow Master Naturalist Martha Johnston:

You can view her other pictures of nature on her photography blog.

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