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The deafening chorus of the northern spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer crucifer) signals the end of winter. They are the ventriloquists of the amphibious world – sending forth a frog sound that seems to come from somewhere other than where the thumbnail-sized peeper is perched. Peepers breed from late March into May and are known for the large vocal sacs under their chins. They pump these sacs full of air and when ready, let out a mighty "peep."
Here we pay tribute to spring peepers, summer leapers and their slower cold-blooded cousins.
Keeping tabs on toads
It was an interesting year. In 1981, Ronald Reagan took oath as the 40th president. The top grossing U.S. film starred Harrison Ford ("Raiders of the Lost Ark"), and the Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey (WFTS) took its first leap. Today, the WFTS is one of the longest running amphibian monitoring projects in North America.
The WFTS is a citizen-based monitoring program coordinated by the Wisconsin DNR's Bureau of Endangered Resources and the Bureau of Science Services. The survey's primary purpose is to determine the status, distribution and long-term population trends of Wisconsin's 12 frog species and one noble toad species, the Eastern American toad. (You can look it up.)
The DNR and the Beaver Creek Reserve's Citizen Science Center recently updated the existing Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey website. Visit Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey.
The new WFTS site is a resource for volunteers to identify Wisconsin frogs, hear their calls, note their ranges and learn the details for recording amphibian sightings that can become part of a scientific database.
Each summer Dousman Derby Days gets the village of Dousman, nestled by Highways 18 and 67 in Waukesha County, hopping. The featured event has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 51 years. It's a frog jumping contest. Bring your own cold-blooded contestant or rent one on site for $1. The community was formed in 1881 when the Northwestern Railroad first ran through the area and the train stop was nicknamed "Bullfrog Station" because of the many bogs and marshes in the area. Dousman Derby Days are July 27-29. Visit Dousman Area Chamber of Commerce, (262) 965-3043
Calling all frogs! Tagging all turtles!
Visitors to the Sandhill Outdoors Skills Center in central Wisconsin can learn more about the state's marshland frogs and toads in a May 12 discussion of frog ecology and status. Join herpetologist Dan Nedrelo on a nighttime "frogging" adventure searching for and identifying frogs in their marshland boudoirs. Cost is $20 and hip-boots are required. Register by May 2 (limit 25 people).
On June 9, slow the pace down and join Sandhill Wildlife staff biologists in a survey of nesting female turtles. Help mark snapping turtles, painted turtles and Blanding's turtles. Cost is $15. Register by June 1 (limited to 10 people).
The Sandhill Wildlife Area is located in southwestern Wood County, approximately 25 miles south of Marshfield and 17 miles west of Wisconsin Rapids. For more information call (715) 884-6333, write Sandhill DNR, Box 156, Babcock, WI 54413, or visit Sandhill Wildlife Area.