Is it Spring yet? Let's ask the frogs!
Things are starting to pick up here at Big Oaks! With a few warmer days these past two weeks, it seems like Spring might be starting. And what better way to find out if it is Spring then by listening to all of the frogs emerge and call for one another. Each species of frog has their own call and each male of that species calls in order to attract the females to mate with them. While we are out listening to the many different calls, right now we are listening to one call in particular, the Crawfish frog.
Now that our bucket traps are set out at one of our bigger ponds and we have heard frogs call from around the area, we check them everyday. We go out every morning with the hopes that there are frogs waiting to enter or leave the pond. If we come across Crawfish frogs, we measure and weigh them before putting them into the pond. This type of monitoring is called pitfall trapping and it allows us to have a better estimate of the number of frogs, or other species like crayfish and spotted salamanders, that are present in the pond. With that number, we then know how many females and males there are so we can be on the lookout for their egg masses. While we do not mess with the egg masses, we do want to make sure they are not being predated on by other animals so we keep a close eye on them once the females lay them.
One way we help the Crawfish frog eggs have a chance to survive is by limiting the amount of competitors in a single pond. Southern Leopard frogs are another common species that we hear calling and see around the refuge. When they lay their eggs, the females lay them near one another, which usually results in a high number of egg masses in one pond. When we find a pond that we think the Crawfish frogs will lay in and there are already a lot of Leopard frog egg masses in there, we take those egg masses and gently move them to a nearby pond where they will continue to grow. This does not harm the eggs, it simply allows for more space in the original pond for the Crawfish frogs to be successful.
Here is a recording of a Crawfish frog breeding call. First you'll hear Spring Peepers then you will hear the Crawfish frog over top of them!