Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Harbinger of Spring - Peepers

The Spring Peepers (Hyla crucifer) are hard to see, but easily heard small frogs. They are in the amphibian word what American robins are to the bird world - a harbinger of spring.


(It may take the video several seconds to load. Turn up the volume!)
The large balls of light in the darkened sky are neighbors' outside lights; the small moving lights are vehicles out on the highway.


I recorded the sound just as nightfall descended. Oh what a treat it is to listen to these little creatures on a coolish spring evening!

A pond full of Peepers sounds like sleigh bells jingling. The chorus begins near nightfall and reaches a crescendo as darkness falls. The sound continues for a few hours until, all at once, the sound suddenly stops -- at about 9 p.m.

Peepers have large "vocal sacs" under their chins that are pumped full of air until they look like a full balloon. The mighty "peep" happens as they discharge the air.
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They are found in wooded areas and grassy lowlands nears ponds and swamps in the central and eastern parts of Canada and the United States.


Peepers are rarely seen, being nocturnal creatures. They hide from predators during the day and emerge at night to feed on delicacies such as beetles, ants, flies and spiders.



Don't mistake their chirping for crickets, which call to each other in late summer and fall.

Nicknames for peepers are "pinkletinks," "tinkletoes," and "pink-wink."

Whatever you call them, these tiny creatures add much enjoyment to a spring evening -- if you're lucky enough to live near a wooded area or grassy lowland near a pond or swamp.

The breeding period is from February -June, when the female lays 200 to 1,200 eggs, attached to submerged aquatic vegetation. 


After the breeding season, they move into woodlands, old fields or shrubby areas(or sometimes onto the back of our house, as we have often seen them at night clinging onto the wall near the lights, waiting to catch unsuspecting flying bugs.) 

Depending on the temperatures, eggs may hatch within two to four days or may take up to two weeks during cooler periods. The newly hatched eggs become tadpoles by early July. When they become tadpoles, they breathe with gills and swim using a tail. 

Peeper tadpoles are bigger than the adult peepers. As they mature, they lose their tail, and they develop lungs for breathing air. Transformation occurs within eight weeks when the young tadpoles are fully transformed into young frogs and leave the pond.

By the end of the summer, they have reached the adult size of about 1 - 1 1/2 inches. Maturity is reached within one year. As the days cool, the peepers dig into the soft mud near ponds for the winter. During the winter, peepers go into a type of partly-frozen hibernation, and they re-emerge when the weather warms.


After they mate and lay their eggs in water and spend the remainder of the year in the forest. During winter, they hibernate under logs or behind loose bark on trees, waiting for the spring thaw and their chance to sing once more.



Many of my childhood summer days were spent catching tadpoles at the pond. I had a cousin, David, who lived to come to our house and catch tadpoles with us! It was just a child sport -- catching them in fruit jars, watching them for awhile and then released them.

Such sweet memories!

I can't wait until tomorrow night when I can once again go outside and listen for the sweet sound!
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Learn more about Spring Peppers here

16 comments:

  1. How cute is that, Sanda! They do indeed sound like tiny sleigh bells jingling, in fact quite Christmassey. And they are so Tiny - dear, sweet little frogs. I have never heard of them before, so thank you for sharing.

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    1. They are cute! Only time I've seen them is when they cling to side of the house to eat bugs around outside lights at night. But that doesn't happen often.

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  2. I love this write up Sanda , about the peepers.
    We of course dont have that particular frog here.. but at night when its rained the noises are very similar. I love hearing them.
    Very interesting. That throat blowing up is amazing..
    Thank you Sanda.. happy days.. val

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    1. I think it's pretty amazing too - that such a tiny creature can produce such a loud sound. Lucky for those of us who enjoy it!

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  3. loved your recording :) the sights and sounds of spring are so encouraging!

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    1. And about time! Think we are about three weeks behind last year's arrival of spring.

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  4. What a treat to hear these little peepers, and thanks for creeping out in the dark to record them for us all to hear.

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  5. I really enjoyed hearing the peepers, thanks for making that possible. I like that last photo of the frog on the pencil a lot! Too cute.

    Darla

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    1. Something for you to sketch Darla!

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  6. Great info on peepers. Have heard them all my life but didn't know all their habits. How well I remember catching those tadpoles! we would watch them in the little branch in our pasture as they grew and turned into little frogs. We were fortunate to experience these things,

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    1. Well I didn't know it was peepers that laid tadpole eggs until I researched it! Let's catch tadpoles soon!

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  7. The balloon looks also a ball one blows when chewing gum. Interesting.
    I don´t think that we have those over here.
    Is it really so dark at 9 pm over there as the picture hints?
    Thank you for sharing!

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    1. It does!
      Oh yes, quite dark at 9 p.m., Right now it's dark about 7 p.m. but later on in the summer it will stay daylight until about 8:30.

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  8. How sweet! (Never thought I'd call a frog sweet, mind). They are so tiny and the do sound lovely from a distance. Natural anti-freeze is what I read somewhere. Completely amazing. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. Frogs aren't the most beautiful of creatures, are they? But the sound of the peepers certainly is sweet.

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