Ripples 5/16/24

by Jessica Johnsrud, education coordinator

Spring is a season that truly awakens my senses. I do enjoy winter, but after the cold temperatures and the lack of snow this year, I love watching the world turn from gray and brown to all the lush shades of green. Plants and trees start to bud and bloom and even the smell of spring is noticeable. These are all welcome sensory experiences, but what I love most about spring are the sounds.

It starts just after sunset in mid-late March with the “peent” of the American woodcock. These oddball shorebirds are also known as “bog suckers, timberdoodles and Labrador twisters.” The nasal “peent” noise is part of the male’s sky dance or display to attract female.

Many amphibians also start singing in early spring. Once the water they breed in warms to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, you will hear the shrill “peep” of the smallest frog at Woodland Dunes, the spring peeper. Peepers are part of the tree frog family and in the right conditions, their call can be detected over a mile away!

Two other frog species also sing at this time and they both make interesting calls. The Northern leopard frogs sing a croaky song that can be described as a slow, creaking door. However, if you are an eight-year-old, you may describe it as, “your dad snoring” or “like it’s burping,” amusing comments I have heard several times during the wetland field trip we offer third graders. The other strange frog song comes from the wood frog and reminds me of chickens clucking or as if the frogs are very quickly and repeatedly saying, “look it up, look it up!” Both of these frog species breed in vernal pools that lack fish, but may dry out in late spring.

As spring continues, each morning brings a new chorus to take in. Migrant songbirds return from their wintering grounds and are announcing their arrival. I love hearing the, “Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada!” song of the white-throated sparrows and the “trees, trees, murmuring trees!” call of the black-throated green warbler.

Spring also brings the buzzing of the first queen bumble bees, the rumbling of thunder, and the patter of rain. It is a time of growth and renewal. I hope you can take a few moments to enjoy the sounds of spring. 

photo of wood frog singing – Nancy Nabak

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