A few days ago, I heard the spring peepers starting their chorus, one of my favorite sounds of spring. Every year, as winter winds down, the peeping emanates from a small, wooded lot down the street from our home in central New Jersey. Our neighborhood has a high water table, making that area very swampy, just the right environment for frogs.
Last night, I convinced my husband to go looking for peepers with me. He put on his rubber boots and I, without thinking, stepped out in my white, soon-to-be brown and wet, Avia sneakers. We entered the woods and followed the peeping sound through the fallen debris and pricker bushes to reach the swampy area. As soon as we approached there was complete silence, all the peeping stopped. We positioned ourselves as inconspicuously as possible and waited, and waited, and waited some more. Every once in a while one peeper would start, but the rest of the chorus wouldn’t join in. We continued to wait until the frogs felt comfortable in our presence. Finally, after 30 minutes or so, the peeping restarted en masse. What a sound! When you are close to the peepers it actually hurts your ears. A group of peepers, peeping together, can reach the decibel level of a rock concert. It is amazing that something so tiny can be so incredibly loud.
Although a chorus of frogs was surrounding us, we only managed to locate one peeper (shown above). What I mistakenly thought was a tiny shoot growing out of a sapling, turned out to be a clinging peeper. His tan-brown color blended right into the branch making him extremely camouflaged. If he hadn’t been loudly looking for a mate I never would have found him. These frogs are fascinating to watch with their balloon-like vocal sacs; it was worth getting scratches and mosquito bites on our arms to see it. Cheers to the spring peeper choir for being one of the first to say goodbye to winter and hello to spring.