Nature Discovery with Renée! Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti…..Croak?

Time for an adventure this week with Librarian Renée! Today’s Nature Discovery blog will feature an amazing animal that lives in our neighborhood!

If I had to choose just one part of spring that I love the most, I’d have to say the sound. The sound of the breeze in the newly filled-in trees and the singing of the birds brings me peace. The buzz of the bees and the chirping of squirrels fills me with joy and the sound of kids playing outside makes me happy.

One of the first sounds of spring is my favorite. See if you can guess what it is!

Can you guess what I am?

  • I go through metamorphosis, having an egg, larval, and adult stage
  • As an adult I use both lungs and my skin to breath
  • I freeze in the winter and thaw in the spring
  • I come out of hibernation in early spring, often when there is still snow on the ground
  • I am hard to see, but you can definitely hear me!

Did you guess a chorus frog? Eu-reeeeeeeeek-a!!

Boreal chorus frog (Pseudacris maculata)

Have you ever been on a walk near a pond or meadow and you hear something that sounds like a stick being rubbed along a comb? That is the call of the male Boreal Chorus Frog! These tiny (adult females can grow to 5cm, that’s a little smaller than my thumb!) live throughout Colorado, even into the mountains. In Lafayette and surrounding communities, as early as late March, you can hear the males calling out to females to mate. Chorus frogs that live at higher elevations will start their mating calls in May and June. After the breeding season, the males will continue to call all summer.

 

The Boreal Chorus Frog is an amphibian, meaning it spends its life both in the water and on land. All amphibians go through metamorphosis (Want to know what other animals undergo metamorphosis? Check out last week’s Nature Discovery blog!).

They begin life as eggs in the water. After hatching, amphibians begin their underwater, gill breathing larval stage. When they live in water and breathe with gills, we call them tadpoles or polliwogs.

 

Tadpoles

The Boreal Chorus Frog tadpoles are herbivores, meaning they only eat vegetation, primarily algae. They will continue to eat and grow as tadpoles for about 40 days until they develop into froglets, a tiny frog that has just developed from a tadpole. At this point they begin to breathe, or respirate, with lungs and through their skin. Breathing through their skin is why amphibians need to stay moist. As froglets they will also change their food preference. Adult Boreal Chorus Frogs are carnivores, meaning they eat meat. They will eat mosquitos and other insects that live near the water as well as worms and spiders.

Being an amphibian, you will find the boreal chorus frog near water. The Boreal Chorus Frog lives mostly by low flowing or still water that is usually devoid of fish, such as creeks, ponds, meadows, and drainage ditches. Unlike other frogs in the area, the Boreal Chorus Frog can spend its whole life near a pond or shallow body of water. Many frogs need to spend winter at the bottom of a deep body of water where the water doesn’t freeze and the plants give off oxygen. The Boreal Chorus Frog has a different approach to winter. This frog has special molecules in its cells that act like antifreeze, something that lowers the freezing point. As winter approaches, the Boreal Chorus Frog will find shelter near its pond habitat, slow its heart rate until it stops and essentially freeze until it thaws in the spring. Now that’s a “cool” adaptation (Can’t remember what an adaptation is? Check out the 5/16 Nature Discovery blog)!

Once thawing occurs, the process of mating begins! The males will start their calls in the evening and can call out until morning. Females are attracted to the calls and once a male has been found, the female will release a few hundred eggs into the water, attaching them to the underside of leaves and underwater vegetation. The male will then fertilize these eggs and within a week the tadpoles will emerge. The Boreal Chorus Frog mates once a year, so after the mating season has passed, male chorus frogs will continue to call out to establish territory, let other frogs know they are near, and provide us with listening pleasure!

So, the next time you head out for an adventure, listen to natures’ chorus. But don’t get too close. If they feel threatened, they will stop their calling and hop into the water for safety.

Until next week, happy adventures!

-Renée

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