Here in the Midwest, you may not be able to see the flowers blooming yet, but you can hear the local residence waking from their long, winter slumber.
Vernal pools have started to form from the melted snow and early spring rainfall that the ground can’t uptake because of the frost line or excessive saturation. These vernal pools (also called ephemeral, temporary, or seasonal ponds) are where many frogs, salamanders and newts call home. These pools provide protection from predators that live in permanent bodies of water including fish, invertebrate predators, and even other amphibians, such as American Bullfrogs and Northern Green Frogs. If tadpoles interest you, here is an identification guide.
Frogs & toads are pretty cool creatures that can survive winters by hibernating and by having antifreeze run through their veins! Terrestrial frogs normally hibernate on land. American toads (Bufo americanus) and other frogs that are good diggers burrow deep into the soil, safely below the frost line. Aquatic frogs such as the American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) and the leopard frog (Rana pipiens) typically hibernate underwater. Some frogs, such as the wood frog (Rana sylvatica) and the spring peeper (Hyla crucifer), are not skilled at digging and seek out deep cracks and crevices in logs or rocks, or just dig down as far as they can in the leaf litter.
Amazing proteins in their blood, called nucleating proteins, cause the water in their blood to freeze first. This ice sucks most of the water out of the frog’s cells dehydrating them. Then the frog’s liver starts making large amounts of glucose (a type of sugar) which fills into the cells and plumps them up. The concentrated sugar solution helps avoid additional water from being pulled out of the frog’s cells, which can cause death.
Right now, the majority of calls I hear are from the Western Chorus Frog. I think they sound like the noise made by running your finger over the teeth of a comb. Frogs and toads make many different calls that all sound alike, however mating calls are specific, which are what you will hear in the soundtracks. This is the easiest way to ID frogs, as seeing them at night might nearly be impossible.
Western Chorus Frog – Pseudacris triseriata
Wood Frog – Lithobates sylvaticus
American Toad – Anaxyrus americanus
Bullfrog – Lithobates catesbeianus
Bullfrog SOS Call
Copes Grey Tree Frog – Hyla chrysoscelis
Cricket Frog – Acris crepitans
Eastern Grey Tree Frog – Hyla versicolor
Fowlers Toad – Anaxyrus fowleri syn. Bufo fowleri
Green Frog – Lithobates clamitans
Green Frog SOS Call
Northern Leopard Frog – Lithobates pipiens
Pickeral Frog – Rana palustris
Plains Leopard Frog – Lithobates blairi
Spring Peeper – Pseudacris crucifer
This one has to be my favorite. It’s just so cute!!
Credit: IL D N R for the Frog Calls!