Salt and Sex Changes?

Here’s an interesting article about how something as simple as road salt is upsetting frog populations in the US.

Courtesy of Tree Hugger, Creative Commons

Courtesy of Tree Hugger, Creative Commons


Aquaterra Update

Has your neighborhood wetland dried up yet or is it still going strong thanks to spring rain?  Or is it, like some of the wetlands and wet spots in my neighborhood,  a mosquito nursery.  They appear to be numerically stronger every day.  Speaking of those little vampires, a “new” mosquito-borne disease appears to be heading our way.

Frog mating season should be winding down for you probably.  Though the bigger frogs, green and bullfrogs, start later than the smaller ones.     Image

I’ve got four breeding pairs of red-winged blackbirds in my neighborhood now.  I’ve spotted three sets of eggs, two nests of hatchlings, and one fledgling.      Image         Image

Get out, explore your wetlands–wear boots and mosquito repellent now–and come back and report.

If all goes well, this month’s challenge will be presented by a guest.

Frog Holler

Bufo americanus or American toad

Bufo americanus or American toad

Returning and permanent resident birds were featured last month, now for May we move closer to the ground and even into the water. Birds and insects appear with the unveiling of spring, but so do amphibians. You can’t hear salamanders, but you can enjoy the singing of frogs and toads.
They, like birds, are trying to attract the attention of amorous females, and one way to do that is to call–loudly and incessantly. Here in SE Michigan usually the first two species to call are the wood frogs and chorus frogs. They can start as early as March if it warms enough. The toad, lowly as it is (pictured above) begins calling in April. From there we hear the green frog, perhaps the leopard frog, the gray tree frog, and in some special locations, the bullfrog.
Amphibians are an indicator species, so if you have water (or wet spots) in your neighborhood, and you don’t hear some kind amphibian yawp, you might have polluted water or the creatures were extirpated for some reason.
The natural sounds of nature can at times annoy, but really, the trill of a toad beats some idiot neighbor’s booming bass, doesn’t it? The plucked banjo string call of the green frog is more soothing than the summer ritual of loud fireworks exploding in a nearby yard, is it not?

As far as resources go, I’ve found this book to be very helpful. Of course, if you don’t live in Michigan it won’t do you much good, but I’m sure one of your universities has a similar publication. The internet is an excellent resource for hearing what these critters sound like, until you can identify them on your own–I still get wood frogs and chorus frogs mixed up. At times when I hear the tree frog grunt and chirp, I think I’m hearing a bird. Perhaps you’ll be a better student than me. Get outdoors and listen.