Spring Peepers are one of Spring's most vocal harbingers.
" They're a harbinger of Spring, it helps, this is what lifts the spirits, gets you into the mood for the summer to come. "
Especially after such a harsh winter, any sign of Spring is welcome indeed. But there's something extra special about the annual emergence of Spring Peepers. These tiny frogs come out of hibernation in the Spring and are one of the first sure signs of the season. They are perhaps the most strident voice of Spring in the natural world, and their chorus of mating calls can be deafeningly beautiful. Mark Carra of Beaver Meadow Audubon Center describes the din. " Ninety some decibels is possible with the numbers you see in a place like this. It can actually hurt, I can literally feel my eardrums vibrating when I get too close, especially early in the Spring when they're at their peak."
Amazing that such small creatures can create such tremendous noise. Carra says their numbers are great and the competition among males for a mate can be tough. " The males tend to use each other as a sounding board, so they kind of go in chorus to show off for the females. But there's always a stronger more powerful singer, a lower voice that tends to take over, and he's the one that usually gets to mate, but the others are kind of waiting in the wings, hoping for the best."
Spring Peeper are a very secretive species. They are usually heard but not seen, part of that is due to their diminutive size, but they are also masters of camoflage . " Frogs are really good at bringing everything together to where they kind of look like a lump on something." Carra tells 2 The Outdoors" In their case they have that X on their back which gives them the scientific name of crucifer or cross bearer, but their tan coloring with a little mottling on it , it's as cryptic as you can get in nature."
Because they can be so small and elusive, frogs are sometimes over looked for their importance to the environment. But inattention to these tiny amphibians would be a mistake,said Carra, as they can tell us much about the health of the surrounding world. " Their skin is so thin and so permeable, they breathe through it they take moisture through their skin, and environmental pollutants affect them quite quickly, so they're kind of telling us if we don't watch it and we keep pouring poisons into the air and into the soil that we may be affected eventually."
Although they are vocal during the day, Peepers are usually loudest after the sun sets. There's nothing like an evening hike among this amphibious choir to put a spring in one's step . " Sounds, visions of new growth, we're dying for life to start again", concludes Carra " It seems like winter just buries us in cold and that feeling of darkness, and I suppose the sound kind of brings out the light, makes us feel more alive."