It’s a sound every country kid in the eastern United States can probably identify when spring finally is sprung.
The particular sound is as sure as the sights of spring flowers popping up from the soil in brilliant colors. It’s as unmistakable as the return of robins bobbing up and down while dining on earthworms in the yard and serenading us with their spring songs.
It’s a distinct and unique sound that reminds you of sleigh bells ringing through the air, even though Christmas is long past. It’s the sound of hundreds of chirping frogs in wetlands and swampy areas.
It’s a chorus of spring peepers.
Recently, on an afternoon walk with Papa, both he and I heard that distinctive noise loud and clear. As we walked along a path towards a pond, we passed a marshy area. But we heard that recognizable sound before we noticed the marsh down over a hill.
Spring peepers sang loudly in a chorus of chirps over and over again. And that sound definitely marks the arrival of spring in my neck of the woods.
Just what are spring peepers and why do they peep? They are tiny frogs with big voices. They primarily live in marshes, ponds, streams, and swamps in wooded areas with low vegetation where they can find feeding frenzies of small insects like beetles, ants, flies, spiders, and even butterfly larvae.
Their peeping is actually a very high-pitched sound resembling sleigh bells and they peep because it is their mating ritual when males call out to females. Apparently, that loud chirping is an attractive quality!
Depending on the temperatures, spring peeper breeding usually begins in late February or March and lasts well into May. The female lays her eggs in still water which is why peepers are found in wetland areas.
Most of the time, they are heard but not seen, but if you do catch a glimpse of one, they are usually gray, tan, or light brown and have a lighter colored belly, but they are tiny little critters not getting any larger than an inch and a half. One distinguishing feature is a dark X on their backs. When they peep, a bubble, the peeper’s vocal sac, forms under the frog’s mouth.
Interestingly, spring peepers are not the only noisy frogs in North America but belong to a group of frogs called “chorus frogs” for obvious reasons.
Spring peepers are a welcome sign of spring around here, especially when we have spring fever! As soon as we heard the peepers’ serenade that afternoon, we stopped walking just to listen and I took a short video of the peepers peeping, but for the life of me, I couldn’t get it to work here so…instead listen to this video to hear this harbinger of spring and then magnify it by a hundred and you’ll understand what I captured on my own video.
Just one of the marvels of spring and God’s creation. Yet another reason why I love living in the country in a place where we experience four distinct seasons.
“We want to hear spring peepers and see the green haze spreading through the treetops, and we are weary of waiting. And if we seem to be captiously impatient, that is a hopeful sign. Such peevishness is an early but dependable symptom of spring fever.” ~Hal Borland