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Peepers Ring in Spring

Tiny frogs seldom seen but often heard

Spring has sprung.    
    Spring peepers are wide awake and calling out loud.
    These tiny frogs are among the first to call and breed. Only the males sing. They’re calling for mates.
    Competition’s tough.
    Females choose a mate by the quality of his call.
    You can tell a peeper by a prominent dark X mark on its back.
    That is, if you can find one. They’re tiny, measuring less than an inch and a half long. Their thumbnail size makes them rarely seen.
    But they’re often heard.
    Peepers fill their vocal sacs with air until they look like a balloon. Then they let out a peep that can be heard as far as a half-mile away.
    They peep about once every second.
    A single peeper’s call is a high-pitched whistle. As a chorus, they sound like jingling sleigh bells.
    The intensity of calling increases to a deafening chorus during humid evenings or just after a warm spring rain, when many males congregate.
    The faster and louder a male sings, the more likely he is to attract a mate. A male peeper may also give a lower-pitched trilled whistle, usually when another male has moved too close to his calling site. During the day, peepers often call during light rains or in cloudy weather.
    They have much to sing about after a long winter’s slumber.
    In the winter, spring peepers hibernate under logs or loose tree bark.
    Their bodies freeze, but their cells don’t rupture because the concentrated sugars in them, produced by their livers, act like natural antifreeze.
    So these tiny frogs survive even after parts of their bodies are crystallized into ice.
    Often mistaken for crickets, these early frogs start singing their songs in late February. You won’t hear crickets until summer.
    I’m lucky to live near water and woods, prime territory for the peepers to mate and lay their eggs. Peepers are music to my ears, my springtime lullaby.
    Hear frog calls at http://www.leaps.ms/soundpage.htm.