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I think it's officially spring, and I could not be more excited. I mean, I know that March 20th has come and gone, but now the signs are clearly there! All over Omaha our yards and trees are greening up, tiny butterflies are flying in a manner that can only be called staggering, and the v-shaped wings of turkey vultures can be spotted whirling in the sky. And best of all, if you've been near any kind of pond or puddle, you've heard this unmistakable sound: the chorus frogs are awake! Spring is here for sure.

In the next several weeks, the land-dwelling frogs and toads in this area will be emerging from under the ground; they've been in a state of torpor (i.e. their heart has almost totally stopped beating) all winter. They survive, however, because their vital organs contain such a high concentration of glucose – it acts like antifreeze, keeping them from completely icing through.

Aquatic frogs, like the chorus frog you heard above, don't have to worry about freezing as much. They stay mostly submerged in muddy pond and stream bottoms, where they can access the oxygen of the water. In the last several weeks, their bodies have come out of torpor, and they're now singing like crazy!

Frogs and toads are great local animals for kids to experience and hunt for… often, you can see AND hear them at the edges of ponds. Plus, they are usually able to evade capture, which makes for at least a half hour of entertainment for your kiddo that won't end in a sad amphibian death. Once your toddler is old enough to grasp the concept of their life cycle, things will get really cool – finding a glob of delicate frog eggs becomes the grand prize of an afternoon well-spent (just make sure everything ends up back in the pond!).

At our Hands-on-Habitat on April 15th we will learn even more about these amazing creatures! We will start with a story, then all head outside to experience the sights and sounds of frogs and toads. You'll even get to make a froggy craft! This event is perfect for your three- to five-year-olds, but I think adults will have some fun as well. We'll see you at 9:30 am on April 15th at Fontenelle Forest!

Lindsay Cooley

from Fontenelle Forest

Lindsay is an environmental educator at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue. She was born and raised in Omaha, and is happy to be back after spending the past four years interning and working at various nature centers around the country. Lindsay has a background in environmental science, and is passionate about cultivating a love of the natural world in children and adults alike. When she's not cutting out craft materials or taking kids on hikes, Lindsay loves birdi ...

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