Spring is coming, everyone! And with it come conditions that are ideal for one of my favorite outdoor activities – Frog Nights! The warmer weather, the melting ground, and the thawing ponds set the stage for amphibian activity and it only ramps up as Spring progresses.
This amphibian activity is due to breeding time. Spring peepers and chorus frogs are the first to begin looking for mates as early as March if the days and nights are warm enough. The method to this madness is singing, and singing LOUDLY.
Have you ever been near a roadside ditch or small pond in the spring, and heard a loud song that sounded like someone repeatedly running their finger along the teeth of a comb? That's the song of a chorus frog, and while they are some of the tiniest frogs around here – only about 1.5 inches long – you can hear their voices from your car with the windows down if you're going less than 35 mph!
As summer arrives, leopard frogs, Cope's gray tree frogs, American toads and bull frogs add their voices into the chorus. Frog and toad songs are loudest and most undisturbed at dusk and a little after sunset, so at the end of the month when the weather is a bit warmer, take the family out for a Frog Night! Listen to some clips of frog and toad calls before you go, so you know what you're hearing, and then pack everybody up for a trip to some water.
Whether you listen near a ditch along the road, or a marsh at Lake Zorinsky, or here at the wetlands at Fontenelle Forest, approach the water and then stay still. If you can wait 3 minutes in moderate silence (which I realize can be a hard thing for kids of any age), you will begin to hear songs rising from the plants surrounding the pond. It's a magical experience! If your kiddos are satisfied after 2 minutes of listening, that's fantastic - you still gave them an opportunity that they would not otherwise have had.
At Hands-on-Habitat on March 20, we'll get you all set for your own Frog Night! Bring your kids aged 5 and under for activities, art, and games that will get you interacting together and learning about the world of frogs and toads at the same time. Hands-on-Habitat is always an open-house format, so come anytime between 10 am and 12 pm to play at your own pace. Don't forget that you can play outside at Fontenelle Forest too – we have a whole acre of outdoor activities year-round in our outdoor classroom, just a couple of yards down the boardwalk from our main building. Register for the March Hands-on-Habitat. Can't wait to see you and learn all about Our Frog Friends!