Sunday, June 19, 2011

All God's critters got a place in the choir

That's a song by wandering troubador Bill Staines, lyrics posted here, rather strangely, by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Actually they don't all, but a lot of them do indeed make a racket.

As I reported some months back, in the winter here the dead of night is as quiet as the dark side of the moon except for the occasional coyote howl or hoo hoo, hoo hoooo of a barred owl. But by early spring bird song started by dawn. It gradually evolved from intermittent sparse utterances to a continuous sound track. Pretty soon the tree frogs started up at dusk and no I'm surrounded by a trilling, swirling symphony 24 hours a day.

Unfortunately I'm no expert on bird song so I don't know exactly what I'm hearing. There are many species of chorus frogs, and again I don't know exactly what I've got there either, although I can deduce that the spring peepers, Pseudacris crucifer, must have started the whole thing off, since "Spring Peepers primarily live in forests and regenerating woodlands near ephemeral or semi-permanent wetlands," and that is exactly where I am at; and they also can survive freezing temperatures so they're the first frogs to get going in spring.

What I also don't know is why these creatures make all this noise. I understand that one reason is to attract mates, but that must get over and done with after a reasonably short time, so why do they just keep on singing? It ought to help predators find them, which can't be good, so it must really be worth it for some other reason. Anybody know?


  1. ornithologists believe birds are communicating, and that their songs reflect both innate and learned components.

    luis baptista was a professor at my college, and later conducted research at the california academy of sciences: one of my friends did a summer internship with him, back when.

  2. Many species of birds lay more than one clutch of eggs, and different species lay at different times. That'll drag it out. The frogs definitely have their own times and places and those matings seem to be one-offs. Locally, the green frogs are just getting going, long after the peepers have disappeared.

    This link might help you ID some frog calls: