The Sound of Spring

…on the first warm night I stepped out to the back porch and heard in the distance a wonderfully high, thin sound, as clear as the first stars over the bare black trees.

~Kathleen Kilgore

They have been calling off and on for awhile now. That distinctive, high-pitched, clear call that means the end of Winter is near. It had been a single peep out front, maybe two at most, until Sunday night. Something was different, maybe warm weather really is here at last. I could hear them from the living room, from the kitchen, from anywhere in the house, and there was an urgency in their calls. So, I tried sneaking out the front door, only to cause a sudden silence. I walked over to the edge of the small pool in the yard and sat, and waited. Only a few seconds passed before the calls started again, first one somewhere in front of me, then one to the left, then another behind. Urgent indeed. I picked out the sounds of about four or five different male callers, but, try as I might, I could not find a single one in my flashlight beam. I have often been frustrated in this quest. I swear they can throw their shrill voices, making it difficult to locate their tiny, camouflaged bodies.

Spring Peeper calling

Spring Peeper calling (click photo to enlarge)

Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) are diminutive members of the treefrog family, with males averaging only about 3/4 of an inch in length. Most are marked with a distinctive X pattern on their light brown back. They often call from branches of vegetation a few feet off the ground, so I started looking in the shrubs and small trees surrounding the pool. The sweep of the flashlight beam silenced them for a few seconds, and then they started up again. I stood and moved a few feet to look around, and, finally, there was one of the songsters. He was calling from the back side of the trunk of a Red Buckeye tree about four feet from the pool. As I moved closer, he stopped. I made what seemed to me a poor imitation whistle of a peep, and they all started up again. Really urgent it seems. I took a few quick images and then went inside, leaving them to their compelling task of finding a female. I had planned to go back out last night, but the drop in temperatures seems to have put a temporary halt to the calling…maybe Spring really isn’t here quite yet.




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