Species of the Month, April 2022: Spring Frogs
by Mary Gartshore
April and the first frogs are singing. Male frogs sing to direct others to breeding ponds, advertise to females and compete to mate. The previous fall, frogs have held territories and built-up reserves. The first wave includes Western Chorus Frogs (thumb on comb), Spring Peeper (loud high-pitched peep), Wood Frog (uttering quacks), Northern Leopard Frog (a rise and fall staccato followed by a series of “grumpfs”), Pickerel Frog (muffled rise and fall staccato but no “grumpfs”).
As temperatures warm songs fade and summer frogs start. Wood Frogs are called “explosive breeders” because they sing and lay eggs in just a few days. The chorus is so impressive that local lore has it that “the ducks are back”. Another saying is “maple syrup season is over when Bull Frogs start calling”. Wood Frogs are the culprit. Wood Frog eggs are firm balls deposited in aggregations. Research suggests these are solar collectors that speed up embryo development. Western Chorus Frogs sing in temporary grassy wetlands. Egg masses are tiny floating mats. Spring Peeper has a similar strategy but sings into late spring. Leopard Frogs tend to breed in marshes. Pickerel Frogs are rare, but unlike Leopard Frogs, have square spots, are grey never green and have yellow hidden areas. They seem to like man-made ponds and may be found around Normandale and Windham Centre. As you approach a chorus, record with video and playback when the frogs stop singing. They will start again. Use a cell phone camera with a bright flashlight. Post to iNaturalist.