Monday, March 16, 2009

Peeps and Rasps

It's not only the birds that are possessed of silky voices and interesting vocalizations, you know.

Anyone who is spending much time outside these warming days will have noticed other sounds - sounds from the amphibian world. If you are interested in learning about bird calls, you'll want to know about the above critter. It's a Spring Peeper, Pseudacris crucifer. These are tiny tree frogs, distinguished by that (more or less) X marks the spot on the back.

Peepers do just that - they PEEP, and at deafening decibels. Their "song" is created by the male, who inflates a sac of loose skin at the throat to herculean proportions, and lets loose. The resultant notes are rather bird-like, and if one manages to get themselves surrounded by a managerie of calling peepers, the chorus almost hurts the ears.

This time of year, Spring Peepers gravitate to wetlands to breed and lay eggs. Almost any little bathtub-sized wet spot will do, really. Here's what they sound like. I bet you recognize that!

The other loud, conspicuous frog that is calling now is the Western Chorus Frog, Pseudacris triseriata. They are abundant, and often mixed in with Spring Peepers. These miniature tree frogs sound like someone running their finger down the teeth of a comb, but boosted by a stack of Marshall amps. Or perhaps a maniacal infant feverishly cranking the handle of a wind-up toy. LISTEN!

Enjoy the amphibious symphony will you can. It doesn't last long.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

Oh yes I hear them many places but seeing them is a different story.

Anonymous said...

any tips on how to actually see them. I can stare for an hour looking for them, looking for moving throat pouches. Nada. Are they in the shrubs? Water? I'd love to show my kids.

Jared Mizanin said...

Jim...too cool! I had to get wet...and very finally photograph my first Western Chorus Frogs this past Tuesday. Totally worth it!

And to answer the above question, they are hidden VERY WELL. Prior to this week, the only one I had ever seen was during a midday chorus when my father spotted one through his binoculars with just its head protruding. The ones I found this week were partially in the water within large clumps of aquatic grasses/reeds...can't identify the plants, but Jim can!