Is Your Spring Peeper Out Yet?
Blog: Weather or Not With Lori Pinson
What about the Northern Leopard? Have you met a Western Chorus?
Bet you’ve heard at least one. Especially if you live in Michigan. What am I talking about? Frogs and toads. You read me right.
As part of an environmental project to determine the health of the Rouge wetlands, I joined the Rouge River Watershed Frog and Toad survey. There are 13 different types in Michigan, but I’ll be listening for eight varieties of frog this spring and summer. According to the experts, the more frogs identified, the healthier our wetlands!
To get started I needed a partner. This is where being married helps. My husband only paused a moment before agreeing to my latest adventure. So, with pen and paper in hand we set off to learn all things frog. We attended a workshop of about 30 people Saturday all willing to volunteer their time to listen for frogs and toads after sunset. Sally Petrella of Friends of the Rouge kept her talk lively and entertaining.
Here’s the thing. If you have a notion that all frogs are green and go ribbit, think again. Frogs can be green, gray, red, blue and not a one of the frog calls I listened to sounded like a ribbit! Plus, only the males call out in an effort to get the female’s attention for, guess what? Breeding. The male frog song is their “Hey look at me” moment!
Weather is an important part of the survey. It can’t be too windy (a strong wind is drying, plus you can’t hear the frogs) and the sunset temperature has to be higher than 46F. Of course, the frogs would love it if it were rainy, kind of like the pattern we’ve been in this week!
The first frog I’ll be listening for is the Wood Frog. This frog does what no human can; freezes solid in the winter and thaws out in the spring! As much as 65% of the water in its body turns to ice. Perfect for Michigan! Because their breeding period is so short, they start calling for mates as soon as they thaw out! These frogs have a black mask behind and around the eye. Here’s what they look and sound like:
Kind of sounds like a chicken, right? That’s what I’ll be listening for, maybe this week!
I hope you’ll follow me on my night ventures as I try to identify the various frogs. Stay tuned!