Peepers Out of Season

© Loree Griffin Burns

I’m soaking up John Hanson Mitchell’s A FIELD GUIDE TO YOUR OWN BACK YARD: A SEASONAL GUIDE TO THE FLORA & FAUNA OF THE EASTERN US this week, and I came across these words among his early spring (April, May, June) thoughts on peepers:

“… although a great deal is known about the mating habits of this common frog, not much is known about the other nine months of its life.”

They caught my attention because I happened to have observed something interesting about the post early-spring life of spring peepers recently. For the past two field seasons, while hunting for ladybugs in a milkweed meadow here in central Massachusetts, I’ve come across a surprising number of resting peepers. I’d estimate that I’ve made 4-6 individual observations, and always on the hottest and most humid of peak summer days. In each case, the frog in question was sitting on the top face of a milkweed leaf about three to four feet off the ground, shaded by the leaves above it.

Perhaps this is common spring peeper behavior? Perhaps its been observed and recorded a thousand times? Or–and I love this idea–perhaps I’ve seen something new?

There are ways to find out, of course. I can consult field guides and amphibian research journals in search of information on spring peeper behaviors recorded in summertime. I can get in touch with amphibian experts or local naturalists and ask them what they know. Or I could simply continue watching milkweed meadows and recording my peeper observations. Citizen-scientist-style.