The raucous “quacking” of wood frogs and the “sleigh-bell” chorus of spring peepers are delightful signs that spring is officially arriving. Hurry out to Oregon Ridge, or a nearby pond, to catch the mating calls of these little amphibians.
You can hear both frogs now, but most wood frogs will head off into the forest in a few days. The spring peepers may linger at the pond throughout the month, then head to their summer home in the woodlands.
The cheery sounds are the male frogs serenading the females to mate with them. Mating happens at a pond, marsh, or other swamp-like area because the frog eggs and later tadpoles need an aquatic environment to survive and develop. After laying eggs in the water, in clusters of up to 1,000, the male and female frogs will head upland to spend the rest of the year in the woods. One evening last year, leaving the Nature Center after a meeting, we saw dozens of tiny frogs in the roadway – the frogs’ breeding was accomplished; they were leaving the pond and heading back into the woods.
Besides their sound, how do you tell them apart – if you get a chance of seeing them?
Spring Peepers are very small. They grow less than an inch and a half long. They can be tan or gray or dark brown and have a dark “X” on their backs. Spring Peepers also have large toe pads for gripping plants when they climb:
Wood frogs are also very small. They range from two to two and a half inches in length. They are usually brown, tan, or rust colored, and have a dark eye mask. Two big ridges (dorsolateral folds) run down its back:
Both photos courtesy of Wikipedia
A great way to learn more about these tiny amphibians is to join Oregon Ridge Nature Center’s “Froggy Frenzy Night Hike” on Friday, March 15, 7-9pm.