It's spring! Time for me and the rest of me mates in Seven Larval Frogs to tune up and tour the east coast. SLF and the "Pond Ambition" tour will hit the major Boston area venues first...
No, really, we have seven larval frogs (tadpoles, pollywogs, etc.) in a big plastic aquarium on the kitchen counter. Christopher captured them in a pond up the street and brought them home yesterday with a smiling, "can I keep them?"
Of course he's prepared the field in advance. What parent is going to say no to seven cute tadpoles when their son has continuously expressed an interest in science? One of Christopher's favorite questions is, "Isn't science so cool?" and he often follows this up with things like, "See those birds? I think those are Golden Eagles," or "Did you know that quartz is the most common mineral?" or "What happens to you when you get cholera, dad?"
At a recent "Career Day," another name for "Bring your kids to work day," Christopher announced his intention of becoming a soldier/paleontologist/geologist, which baffled me until I pictured two dinosaur hunter teams meeting on a dry hillside in Wyoming. Christopher (now grown up with several PhD's and an assault rifle) steps out in front of his team and says, "That's my Mesosaurus brasiliensis." He clicks off the safety. "Of course, you could fight me for it."
So, these cute larval frogs are going to grow into the common species you hear chirping around ponds in New England in spring, appropriately named, Spring Peeper (Pseudacris c. crucifer). And it's not so much a chirp, or even a lot of chirps, as it is thousands of chirps blending into a solid wall of amphibian din. Won't that sound nice inside the house at 2 A.M. on a hot summer night?
Males, the only ones to vocalize, produce two primary calls by expanding their throat pouch. While at breeding ponds, they emit a single, high-pitched note (i.e., resembling the call of a bird) that they repeat 15-25 times per minute. This call note is so high pitched that people often mistake this vocalization for an insect chirp and has also been likened to the ring of sleigh bells (Klemens 1993).
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