March 13, 2023
A few days ago, our silent winter nights burst into song. The chorus frogs had awakened at last.
These are Pacific Chorus frogs (Pseudacris regilla), also known as Pacific Tree frogs. They are late this year though their timing is not completely unprecedented. These are the dates of first noticeable group chorusing over the past few years, as heard from my home in the Pacific Northwest islands of Washington state:
2023: March 13
2022: March 1
2021: March 3
2020: Feb 17
2019: March 15
Their singing depends on ambient air temperature, and it’s been colder than usual for the past month or so in my area, running about ten degrees below normal. For my local frogs, if nighttime temps are below 40° they are silent. Once it gets over 40° a few and then more and more frogs each night will chorus together. When temps warm into the 50s at night it’s total deafening cacophony in stereo (there are large breeding wetlands to my west and northeast). Even my hard-of-hearing husband can hear them then.
Only male chorus frogs sing though; the females listen and evaluate the songs. Male chorus frogs compete for females, and the louder a male can sing, the greater his chance at attracting a mate, and in fact loud males will drive away quieter nearby males. Once a female accepts a male, they mate and she lays her eggs in the water. This chorusing and posturing and mating goes on seemingly for months.
The frogs are loud but stealthy; I can’t see them in their wetlands. Luckily this YouTube video catches some of the action amongst singing frogs:
Chorus frog serenades aren’t only a glorious sign of spring.
Our dear fellow Bucketeer RedwoodMan had a special connection with chorus frogs. He understood them and they understood him, and they appreciated the ponds he built for them in his backyard in the northern Willamette Valley near Portland Oregon. Sadly, RedwoodMan's human life ended two years ago.
RedwoodMan could channel chorus frogs (and other animals). It’s a good thing for us he reported at the Bucket what went on in his frog pond world, because there’s a lot more going on than meets the ear. In The Daily Bucket--In the Seventh year, Seven Daughters begat Seventy Sons, one of his last diaries, he relates the Pond Princess’ story from this spring season, in her own words. Screenshots from that diary:
And who could forget the drama and hilarity of Frog Court in RedwoodMan’s backyard, like the session reported in this episode: The Daily Bucket-- The Innocence Project Appeals to Frog Court. Impossible to paraphrase — you’ll have to read the court proceedings for yourself.
(For more about RedwoodMan, see Besame’s tribute: Community Spotlight pays tribute to Redwoodman (1950-2021))
The frogs have awakened in my neighborhood, and I hear RedwoodMan in that chorus as I do each spring now, all of them joyfully calling from the wetlands. If you listen, you may hear him too. Greetings, RedwoodMan, on these lively froggy warming spring evenings.
THE DAILY BUCKET IS A NATURE REFUGE. WE AMICABLY DISCUSS ANIMALS, WEATHER, CLIMATE, SOIL, PLANTS, WATERS AND NOTE LIFE’S PATTERNS.
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Warming in the PacificNorthwest islands. Temps in 40s, even low 50s! Sunny, with a light breeze.
WHAT’S UP IN NATURE IN YOUR BACKYARD?