It’s frog time!

It’s frog time
Tim Hauserman

(Photo: Page Meadows later in the spring once the flowers arrive)

It happens every spring. In the still ponds behind the beaver dams at Antone Meadows, as the snow melts in the soggy puddles of Page Meadows, or even in the pond at The Tahoe City Golf Course. The incessant, rhythmic beauty of the chorus of thousands of frogs, a sign that spring is here.

A few years back I remember hiking up towards Page Meadows from Tahoe City. As I approached the first meadow I could hear a sound that could even overpower the Led Zeppelin playing on my ipod. I found a dry spot surrounded by water and sat to listen. While at first I could only hear a cacophony of croaking, when I’d been listening a bit, I realized the sound was following a moving pattern. At first most of the sound would come from one side of the meadow, but then it would shift to the other. When the loudest sounds began to emanate from right next to me, I looked long and hard trying to locate the frogs, but with no luck. I decided that they are either invisible or very small and blend in well with the environment around them.

According to Kirk Hardie, from the Tahoe Institute for Natural Sciences, the frogs were most likely Sierran tree frogs and the sounds that I was hearing were males who were proudly proclaiming, ”Hey, I’m here, come mate with me!” The frogs are usually smaller then a quarter and blend in nicely with the surroundings, thus making it a challenge to see one.

The frogs begin their mating ritual right after going through a freezing ritual. They actually freeze solid for several weeks in the late winter, using a build up of proteins in their bodies to protect them from the ice. When the temperatures get a bit warmer they start to reanimate and the first thing they do is locate a pond and get the word out to the girly froggies that they are there. If another cold spell hits they might go silent again, before coming back for another round of singing.

So if you are heading out for a ride or hike in the vicinity of a meadow or marshy area in the next few weeks, keep your ears peeled for the sound of lonely frogs, singing their hearts out for love.