How I Know it’s Spring

RobinThis year, Spring began on March 20th. But there are those of us who gauge the start of Spring by what we observe in nature, rather than by the date on the calendar determined by the vernal equinox.

There are numerous signs that announce the advent of spring. Of course, these signs vary depending on where you live. But even for those who live in the same area, individuals recognize different signs as their “official” start of spring indicator.

P1000681For many, birds tend to play a large role in the determination of the the dawn of Spring: The sight of robins wrestling long juicy worms out of the earth, the buzz of iridescent humming birds, the honking of unseen geese flying north, just above the clouds or the serenade of newly arrived songbirds moving from branch to branch in nearby trees.

Others look to the plants: When crocuses or daffodils emerge from the ground, or poke through the snow, the sudden blossoming of plum or other flowering trees, the appearance of stunning western white trillium flowers in the shaded forests or maybe the growth of hydrangea buds.Western White Trillium

Plum Blossom CollageTo me, several of these occurrences are evidence of the start of Spring, but my definitive proof of Spring’s beginning is something else entirely.

P1000632AdjI am referring to the onset of frog calls. More specifically, the mating call of the pacific tree frog ((Pseudacris regilla). This tree frog is the most common in the state of Washington, and is most likely the one you will hear coming from nearby ponds during summer evenings.

The pacific tree frog displays a black mask that extends from the front shoulders and across the eyes. And the large toe pads make it well suited to climb trees.

The frog’s body coloration ranges from lime green to various shades of brown, and from solid color to detailed patterns. The tree frog can quickly change color, but the change is not dependent on the frog’s background, but rather by the air temperature and moisture content determine the color.

Pacific Tree FrogWhen the frog calls to attract a female, it emits two tones in succession. Generally, once one male starts, all the other nearby males join in. The frog call can carry great distances.

There is a man-made pond only a couple yards out my back door. This time of year, the calls are only sporadic. But in late Spring and during the summer, when the frogs are most active, it is almost impossible to hold a conversation in the back yard. The frogs are the most vocal during the evening and night, although they are not above calling during the day. They also seem to call more when it is raining. And for some reason they like to call when I am running the lawn mower.

Personally, I like the sound of frog calls. They are soothing, almost therapeutic. But I can imagine that to some people they might sound like the yapping of a hundred chihuahuas. For the record, I have never had a complaint from any of my neighbors.

Pseudacris regilla

I came across the pictured tree frog yesterday in my back yard. He was kind enough to pose while I put my lens right in his face. Or maybe he was afraid I would eat him if he moved. Fortunately I had just finished lunch, so he was in no real danger.

Spring is a season of change, a promise of hope for what is to come, a time of new life. That is why we are on watch for the signs of Spring’s arrival.

What is the one sign that lets you know that Spring has begun?

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11 Responses to How I Know it’s Spring

  1. Great post, Rick. I love your frog! He’s darling. 🙂 I enjoyed all of your other images, too. I’m so glad to hear that spring has arrived in your part of the world. I’ll have to be on the lookout here for the “one sign.” There have been a few “suggestions,” but I’m not convinced yet that spring is really here. I’ll let you know! 🙂


  2. Shonnie says:

    Beautiful! Love your photos!


  3. Glad you like the Lumix-I love mine. I can’t wait to hear our “spring peepers.” They’ll be a sure sign that spring is really here.


  4. Sue says:

    Wonderful post. Love the frog!


  5. skadhu says:

    I’m with you on the frogs being the most emphatic sign of springs. You can miss the occasional spring bird calling, but when you have a swamp behind your property and a pond on it…. it’s gotta be the frogs.


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