Friday, March 18, 2011

LOOK FOR: Spring Peepers

Spring Peeper
Photo credit: bbodjack
It has been a long-time goal of mine to actually find a spring peeper. I hear them every spring, but I never actually see them. I'm convinced they throw their voices: I'll sit for 15 minutes looking directly at where the sound seems to be coming from, and see nothing.

I shouldn't feel that bad: these little frogs are only an inch long, and they spend most of their time hanging out under cover of leaf litter. And they are mostly active at night.

But they are so LOUD! If there were a contest for decibels produced per body mass, I'd put my money on the peepers. At 100+ decibels, they're in the same range as cicadas (and chainsaws), but so much smaller.

And so it can be infuriating: I hear them, I get close, I'm patient enough to wait them out when they stop calling. I get closer. I look, I wait. The sound is coming from RIGHT THERE. I look. And look. And... nothing.

This video gives a good example of a single spring peeper calling:

How can I not find an animal making that noise?

Anyway, regardless of my inability to actually see them, going to listen to the spring peepers is a spring ritual for me and Matt. In an area with a lot of peepers, the noise can be downright deafening. And there's something just awe-inspiring to know that the racket is coming from such tiny little critters.

So, head out to a vernal pond some evening in the next few weeks around dusk, and see if you can hear the peepers. Maybe you'll be luckier than me and actually see them.

Have you heard the peepers this spring? Let us know where! Or maybe you know the secret spycraft to break the spring peepers out of their deep cover? Do tell!