Somewhere in the darkness just ahead was what I was searching for. I had not seen it, but I was hearing it—a high-pitched, shrill, peep, peep, peep. Actually there were hundreds of peeps all around me. I was easing along the edge of a pond in a woods, flashlight in one hand and camera in the other. While camping near Bushkill Falls in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, these spring peepers had lured me out for a stroll with my camera, adding to the many hours I have spent sloshing around swamps, puddles, and ponds, looking for and photographing the various kinds of amphibians that sing from these locations in mating season.
There is the peeper! I spied this one hanging on a fern a foot or two off the ground. What a beautiful location for a photograph! As quietly and quickly as possible, I eased into position and took a couple of photographs. Then I waited patiently for it to sing again so I could get a photo with his air sac expanded.
Male peepers make their call by pushing air out of the sac and then drawing it back in. One note is made as the air goes out; a second one is made as the air comes back in. Watching the air sac expand, pulse, and retract as the peeper peeps, is very fascinating.
I am always amazed how small these noisy little fellows are. Shortly after we constructed a recirculating water pool in our yard, I was photographing spring peepers at a neighbor’s swamp. Eager to have some at our pool, I caught two and carefully placed them into a film container. I remember thinking that I could probably put six in one tiny can. That's how big—or should I say how small—a peeper is.
The intense volume of the peeper’s calls is also amazing. A barn with metal siding stands beside the neighbor’s swamp. As thousands of shrill peeps pierce the night air, the water amplifies the sound of the peeps, and the sound waves bounce off the siding. Those factors combined make it so noisy behind that barn you almost wish for hearing protection.
Whoops, there he jumped! The peeper on the fern took a big leap instead of singing again. While disappointed, I was glad I had already taken a couple of shots in case he did just that. Even though the air sac was not expanded on this picture the lovely pattern of the fronds, the rhythm of the leaflets, the flowing lines, and the beautiful green and brown against a black background make this one of my favorite peeper photos.
At our home we eagerly anticipate the spring when six different species of frogs and toads sing their various songs from our water pool in the yard. Our boys also enjoy when we sing about their singing, using the tune for “The Birds Upon the Treetops.”
The peepers in the puddle sing their song,
The froggies join their chorus all night long,
The toadies in the garden blend their tune,
So why shouldn’t I, why shouldn’t you
Praise Him too?
- Adhesive toe pads enable the peeper to cling to vegetation and trees.
- A peeper can jump 17 times its body length.
- The female lays 800–1000 eggs at one time.
- In the winter, peepers hibernate under loose bark or under logs. They can survive even if most of their body parts freeze.
- Peepers eat insects, spiders, and worms.
- Peepers have many predators, including fish, bullfrogs, snakes, and birds.
“Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created” Revelation 4:11.