Signs of Spring Everywhere Signs of Spring Everywhere
Today's News Report Your Sightings How to Use Journey North Search Journey North

Signs of Spring Everywhere Update: March 15, 1999

Today's Report Includes:

Frogs Singing!
Journey North participants are suddenly hearing frogs singing in many areas. A few examples:

  • Ms. Lang's class at Hollywood Elementary School in Hollywood, MD, heard spring peepers on March 3, 1999.
  • The Firgrove Naturalists in Puyallup, WA, heard Pacific Tree Frogs singing "in the early morning while it is still dark" during the last week of February.
  • At the Steele Creek Nature Center in Bristol, TN, Mr. Hamed reports: "With the crazy weather we have had in east Tennessee frog activity began early this year. In mid-January Wood Frogs began calling and breeding. Upland Chorus Frogs and Spring Peepers became active in mid-Feb with the first singing on Feb. 18. Wood Frog tadpoles began to be seen on Feb. 22. Other amphibians that are active include Spotted Salamanders. They have also laid their eggs. Many were seen between Jan 20 and Feb 18."

Listen for the Sounds of Spring!
Report the FIRST Frogs you hear singing this spring to Journey North!
Watch our frog map to see how spring progresses this year, and get YOUR first frog on the map, too!

Which frogs live near you? Check any field guide to amphibians where you'll find a range map for these species.

Listen for the:

It's Not Easy Being Green
Frogs and other amphibians have had serious problems in past decades. Some hatch with deformities. Numbers are dropping in many areas throughout the world. Part of the problem is the loss of wetlands, and part seems to be environmental contaminants. Many frogs lay their eggs in temporary ponds formed from melting snow. Falling snow is no more acidic than rain, but ponds formed from snow melt are often very acidic compared to other ponds.

Challenge Question # 8
"Why are puddles formed from melting snow more acidic than other ponds in most areas?"

Challenge Question # 9
"Based upon what you know about the anatomy and life cycle of a frog, why do you think they are more susceptible to environmental contaminants than most other animals?"

(To respond to these challenge questions, see below.)

Scientists Work to Solve Frog Problems
The first step in figuring out what is going wrong with frogs is to keep track of their populations. Scientists at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center have started a Frog Monitoring Project, and have also designed some classroom projects.

Right when the first frogs are calling, we start noticing other signs of spring. Some of the birds that return close to the time that frogs emerge include the:
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk
  • Broad-winged Hawk
  • Northern Harrier
  • Sandhill Crane
  • Great Blue Heron
  • American Bittern
  • Fox Sparrow
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • American Robin

Some of these birds return north at this time in part BECAUSE the frogs are emerging. For some, the timing is just a coincidence. Do a little research on these birds and try to answer

Challenge Question # 10
Which of these bird migrations do you think are timed to coincide with the return of frogs? Give one or two reasons why you think so.

(To respond to this Challenge Question, see below.)

Discussion of Challenge Question # 7
We asked why you think redwings return just as marshes are thawing each spring. John, Stephen and Julie in Ms. Thurber's second grade class explained it very clearly: "We think that red wings return as the marshes are thawing because they eat a lot of invertebrates and insects in the spring. Most inverterbrates live in water and a lot of insects live near or on the water. A marsh is a wetland and for birds to be able to get to the invertebrates, the ice must be melted."

Also, during the long winter, some aquatic insects and fish die, and if they float to the top, pieces of their bodies get embedded in the ice, or start spewing out through cracks as the ice breaks up. Some plant matter also gets stuck in the ice. Red-wings, crows, and grackles often walk on the surface of the ice as it's breaking up and take this "detritus" before it sinks to the bottom of the water when the ice disappears.

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question

Please respond to only ONE Challenge Question per e-mail message!
1. Address an e-mail message to:
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question # 8, 9, OR 10.
3. In the body of your message, answer the question.

The next Signs of Spring Everywhere Update will be posted March 29, 1999

Copyright 1999 Journey North. All Rights Reserved. Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to our feedback form

Today's News Today's News Report Your Sightings How to Use Journey North Search Journey North