One of the reasons I love coming back to St. Simons Island is the wonderful winter weather. While it is freezing and snowing in Ohio, it is generally mild or warm here in southern Georgia. Heralds of this mild weather is the spring peepers we hear through the day. I often heard spring peepers in Ohio but not until April or May. Here in Georgia we hear them in January and February.
Jude, one of the volunteers here at Fort Frederica is from Arizona and Colorado and she didn’t know what spring peepers were. She thought the noises were crickets. But Tom and I recognize their call and look for them. Peepers live near swamps, marshes, and ponds, so it is no wonder Jude didn’t recognize there call.
Spring Peepers, Pseudacris crucifer bartramiana, are a tiny frog, less than an inch in length. Males make their distinctive peeping sound in the spring when they are trying to attract a mate. Generally you hear them after winter freezing is over but before temperatures get too warm. Thus their name. Spring peepers can be frozen in winter ice but come alive again with the spring thaw. Kind of the way I feel about winter.
Spring peepers are tan or brown with a dark cross that roughly forms an X on their back (thus the Latin name crucifer, meaning cross-bearer), though sometimes the marking may be indistinct. They have large toes with sticky pads so they can climb on slippery branches. Although you can hear them, you rarely see them. The peepers are masters of disguise and always stop peeping if they hear or feel someone close to them. They live an average of three years.
Hearing spring peepers is one of the joys of warmer weather for me. I love to hear them chirping in the evening and early morning.