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This Week’s Creature Feature ... Frog Song

Sharpen your ears: They’re out There quacking, snoring, ­growling and peeping

The chorus of spring’s frogs, clockwise from top left: Pickerel frog, wood frog, northern leopard frog and spring peeper.

It’s loud out there in frog land.    
    Wood frogs, one of the season’s earliest risers, already have a new generation of tadpoles swimming in vernal pools. That’s the March 11 report of Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary volunteer Mark Priest posted on the Sanctuary’s webpage sightings link, jugbay.org/wildlife_sightings. Follow the link to see Priest’s short video of half-inch-long wrigglers.
    Those tadpoles are the progeny of females lured by male frog song noted by Sanctuary Director Chris Swarth on February 27. Wood frogs, Swarth reports, make a distinctive sound, “like the quacking of a duck. Usually you’ll hear dozens calling at once from a flood plain or swampy areas, and it sounds like a whole bunch of mallards.”
    Sound is the clue to frog identification. “Some frogs snore,” Swarth says, “some growl and some peep peep peep.”
    Those are the irrepressible spring peepers, a species that takes advantage of any run of warm weather to sound its mating call.
    Peepers are water-lovers, but all frogs, Swarth notes, “are linked to aquatic habitats, as they have to lay their eggs in water.” Wood frogs, however, follow their name looking for food.
    This year’s warm weather has stimulated the frogs to begin giving mating calls three or four weeks early, Swarth says.
    Visit Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, and you’re likely to see or hear leopard frogs, pickerel frogs, peepers and more, Swarth promises. Walking through the flood plain or in upland vernal pools, look for the tadpoles of wood frogs (above) and marbled salamanders.
    Peepers you might hear anywhere in Chesapeake Country, for if there’s water, peepers find it. An especially loud chorus sings in the roadside ditch on Solomons Island Road paralleling the South River Colony shopping center in Edgewater.