Nature Bulletin No. 6 March 17, 1945
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Clayton F. Smith, President
Dr. David H. Thompson, Zoologist
The CRICKET FROG and the SPRING PEEPER are among the first of
the winter sleepers to come out of hibernation and greet the new year,
On March 10, a few were found at McGinnis Slough, near Orland Park,
where the sun had melted the ice and warmed the water along the shore.
A week later the ice was all gone and they were singing in full chorus.
If it freezes again, they will crawl back under the logs, leaves and trash
where they spent the winter.
of these frogs are tiny -- about the size of a lima bean. The cricket
frog has a rough skin and a dark triangle between the eyes. The spring
peeper' s skin is smooth with a large dark-colored X on the back. The
male frog does all the singing, blowing up the loose skin at his throat
into a small balloon to serve as an amplifier. The cricket frog gets its
name from the song of the male, which is a rapid series of staccato
chirps -- as sharp as a note struck on a xylophone. The spring peeper's
voice is a drawn-out "pe-e-e-ep", sounding like that of a cold hungry
These frogs sing both day and night when it is warm, and often can be
heard for a quarter of a mile. As you walk toward a pond or ditch where
dozens of them, seeming to be trying to drown out each other, they
suddenly shut up and sink out of sight in the water. They are very wary,
but if you "freeze" on the spot, and wait, soon they will stick their heads
out, inflate their throats, and tune up. But they are very hard to see and
harder to catch.
The female come to the singing males and soon afterwards little bits of
jelly, each containing an egg, may be seen stuck to weeds, twigs, and
leaves just under the surface of the water. During the next week or so,
the eggs develop into tiny tadpoles, the jelly swells and dissolves, and
the tadpoles swim away to begin eating. If a few eggs can be found on a
twig or leaf, and placed in a dish of water, you can watch the daily
development of the eggs and the hatching of the tadpoles.
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Update: June 2012