PEEPING FOR LOVE!!! by Montana Grant
By angelamontana

Posted: March 17, 2024

Kiss a frog and you may find a Prince! If not, you may just be kissing a frog! Spring Peepers are a sign of Spring in Montana. The other day I saw a flock of robins in my yard. Other birds are returning as well, but the Peepers really put on a welcoming show. 

As things warm up, you will begin to hear the love calls of Spring Peppers in our marshes, wetlands, and watersheds. Other wood frogs are thinking the same thing. The natural symphony of sound is welcome after the silence of Winter. 

All frogs produce sounds by moving air back and forth over their vocal cords. Thumb nailed sized Spring Peepers have an additional stretchy sac that amplifies their love calls. It’s like using a tube to increase the volume on an elk call. 

Early Spring fishing in many fresh watersheds means that you are entering the area where the frog orgy is happening. The volume increases with the warm evenings. The best love calls happen when the temperatures are over 30 degrees. Areas around geothermal areas can be especially loud. 

The sounds can come from the ground, but these peepers are excellent climbers. Their feet are especially suited for adhering to plants, rocks, and bark. Their call is a high pitched, short, urgent, ascending whistle. Like that made by an old girl or boyfriend! 

Rotting detritus in the marsh generates heat to keep the frogs from freezing. Their high pitched, recurring calls announce that they are ready for love. These frogs are found throughout much of North America and Canada. 

The purpose of the Spring Peeping season is reproduction. Once the frogs have mated, these amphibians will lay a mass of over 1,000 eggs. After 2-3 weeks, tiny tadpoles will be seen. These algae eaters can remove algae from 12 gallons of water a day! In about 5 months the tadpoles will morph into adults. The next generation will head back into the forests. It will take 3-4 years to mature and mate. 

We also get to hear the Peepers in the Fall, during hunting season. Less light and dropping temperature seem to motivate some conversation before Winter. 

Some of my favorite hidey holes for elk and deer are in wetlands where these critters are found. In a few cases, the Peeping stopped to warn me of the bucks or bull’s approach. 

Montana rivers and floodplains provide excellent corridors that connect habitats. These peepers let us know that these areas are healthy and abundant. 

What a great Peep Show!

Montana Grant

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