Sunday, April 14, 2013

Thrills and Trills

Certain sounds just mean spring to me. The calls of newly arrived Eastern Towhees mixed with those of the last few White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos, for example.
Eastern Towhee enjoying a well-deserved sunflower seed in my yard

White-throated Sparrow still hanging around my yard

Dark-eyed Junco also scarfing down those sunflower seeds, still in my yard

But one of my favorite sounds, and for that matter events, of the spring is the mass courtship and mating of American Toads.  As soon as the weather warms up enough, the ponds at Brookside Gardens fill up with toads looking for love. The males make this amazing trill that's surprisingly loud. This year's breeding event took place last week. Of course I spent every lunch hour or spare minute down at the pond for the three days it lasted, enjoying the ethereal trills. Just a little of what it looked and sounded like on day two:

Here too is a photo of the masses of eggs covering the pool's bottom the day after that video.

Lots and lots of eggs... and some toads still locked in an embrace

American Toads lay eggs in long curly strands, not big clumps like frog eggs. Most of the ones you see here have been covered with fine silt kicked up during the mating frenzy. The newer ones are clear with the eggs visible as a line of tiny black dots at the center, like the strand curled around the stick to the upper left of the mating pair.

I'm sure most of the tadpoles will become food for some other creature long before they become adult toads, but it's still so fun and thrilling to watch. I'm eager to watch the development of embryos and then tadpoles over the next several weeks. Hooray for spring!

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