Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring Peepers and Woodpeckers

I heard the first Spring Peepers today!  I was out in our local environmental center yesterday teaching three classes and I heard not a sign of them.  Today I took my own children out to enjoy the warmer weather and we were greeted by quite a chorus of them. Peepers are found in woodland pools and ponds, preferably without fish to prey on their eggs, tadpoles and adults.  Males gather in these small pools by the hundreds, or even thousands.  Their chorus begins the first warm evenings of the season, starting in late February into late summer.  Only the male frogs call, averaging a peep per second.  They usually call in trios, with the lowest-pitched male starting the competition.  Those that sing the loudest and fastest are most likely to attract mates.  These nocturnal amphibians can be heard loud and clear up to a half-mile away. 

Another creature that is out in full-force is the woodpecker.  We have been seeing and hearing a very persistent
downy woodpecker the last few weeks.  It is the one bird that children have to be asked to listen for, but when they do hear it, a smile always spreads across their face.  Children often say that it sounds just like you think it should.   Today we visited Bicentennial Woods and as we parked the car, a crow size bird with a red-head flew by. 
“Mom, mom, what was that?” my son asked. 

I haven’t seen a pileated recently, but the size of the bird we saw made it unmistakable.  It was a pileated woodpecker.  We listened to his ardent pecking during most of our hour long nature walk.  It made us feel really connected to nature to hear that bird busily pecking away while we meandered through the forest.  It seemed like all was right with the world.

            The Nature and Nurture Club will meet for a group hike at Bicentennial Woods in two weeks.  On Sunday, March 27th, plan on meeting us in the parking lot at 3:00 pm for a great spring hike.