Today I was drawn to the pond by a symphony of music. I stood there for minutes searching for members of the orchestra but not one was visible. Yet I’m sure I was being watched by hundreds of tiny eyes, the eyes of spring peepers (Pseudarcris cruicer), the first species to begin calling each spring. Hidden well in the vegetation and silenced by my approach, the music began again after I took a quiet stance.
For weeks, all in Virginia have heard the shrill whistles from distant woods and ditches but the sound in our frog pond has reached a fever pitch. This all-male chorus of tiny frogs has an amazingly loud and high ‘peeping,’ all directed toward the fairer sex. The higher and faster a male can sound, the better his chances are of attracting a female of the species.
Peepers are good climbers but they prefer to be on the edge of ponds and marshy woodlands full of grasses, twigs, and shrubs. From just above the water, trios of males form a chorus to compete for mating rights. These little frogs vary in size but on average they are just over an inch long and are found in shades from brown, tan, olive, gray or a tinge of red. The belly is cream and the back is marked by the most distinguishing feature, a dark cross.
Most folks have a great affection for the spring peeper for they mark the awakening of spring and the renewal of life. Winter is finally over. Hallelujah!
Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester