Signs of Spring: April 10, 2000
Today's Update Includes:
Singing Frogs Signal Spring
Stephen Maguire from Townsend, MA (42.67N,-71.60) reported: "Amazing!!!!
On my way home from school today, I drove through a heavily wooded swampy area. At
the stop sign, I was astounded to hear the resounding chorus of 'peepers'! It's the
earliest I have heard them in a long time." (firstname.lastname@example.org)
You Think YOU Had a Long Winter!
After spending the winter buried under mud at the bottom of a lake, or surrounded by molding leaf litter, it's no wonder frogs are ready to sing in the spring! And if you go outside on a rainy night, you might see them on the move. So, put on your rain slicker and your galoshes', and grab your flashlight. You may see them traveling from their wintering area to a breeding pond. But, quiet on the set! Once you're near the pond, be sure to tread lightly--any disturbance and the frogs will stop their tune. But if you are quiet, they'll likely start up the chorus again.
But What's All the Singing About?
Frog expert Madeleine Linck tells us that it's generally the male frog doing the calling during breeding season (She notes that many modern herpetologists refer to it as "calling"). While females can be vocal (they have a release call), it is only the males that call to attract females. Males get to the breeding ponds first, and will be calling when the females arrive.
According to Madeleine, the males' calls are known as "advertisement" calls, and they are very specific calls to attract females. The high pitched "peep, peep" call is a classic advertisement call. Madeleine tells us that experts Stebbins and Cohen, in their book "A Natural History of Amphibians", conclude that the advertisement calls are species identification signals. Only spring peepers will follow the location of a spring peeper chorus. There is also a trill call that is thought to be for territorial spacing. It tells an intruding male that it is getting too close to another. The author of "Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region", James Harding, believes that females may favor males with louder faster calls.Which leads us to ask loudly:
And the Grammy Goes to...
Calling All Frogs!
If you were a frog, you'd have to know the mating call of your kind. So tune your ears and learn the unique calls of these four frogs:
When you think you know them as well as any frog, you're ready for the Frog Call Quiz:
(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)
Keeping an Eye to the Sky: Predator/Prey
Life in the spring is not just a song for frogs. Right when the first frogs are calling, they also need to keep an eye to the sky. Some of the birds that return close to the time that frogs emerge include the:
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:
Please Report the Unique "Signs Of Spring" from Your Part of the World!
Your sightings of first frogs, earthworms, emerging leaves, flowing sap, melting ice--and other spring events will to be incorporated into these "Signs of Spring" updates.
How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question:
Please answer ONLY ONE question in EACH e-mail message.
1. Address an E-mail message to: email@example.com
2. IMPORTANT: In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #11 (#12,#13,OR #14)
3. In the body of EACH message, give your answer the question above.
The Next "Signs of Spring" Update Will be Posted on April 24, 2000.
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