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!


Elizabeth | The Natural Capital said...

We've heard the peepers this week at Boundary Bridge and on the Northwest Branch near Burnt Mills.

Scott Namestnik said...

Spring Peepers and Western Chorus Frogs just began calling in full chorus a few days ago here in northern Indiana.

I've seen both species, but it's never when I'm hearing a chorus of them calling. I usually find them while botanizing, watching the ground, and suddenly I see something hop.

Good luck!

Sharon said...

I stopped at the park on Beach Dr. near Strathmore and Knowles Ave. yesterday afternoon. The sound was nearly deafening. There was a full chorus of peepers in the marshes towards the east side of the park. Wonderful.

I stood at the edge of the wetlands there and still couldn't see even one little creature.

Elizabeth | The Natural Capital said...

Sharon, we were up that way a little while ago and could hear the peepers in the distance -- nice to know where the sound was probably coming from!

We've been stopping by the Lowell School in DC right outside Rock Creek Park -- they have a constructed wetland area. We caught the toads mating last week and now there are eggs. And the peepers just keep peeping...

Elizabeth Hargrave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth Hargrave said...

See our post on how we finally found them!

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