April 10, 2013 —
The first time I heard wood frogs “quacking” from a forested vernal pool, I thought I was hearing numerous ducklings. As I approached the tangled brush fringing the water, the sound mysteriously stopped. No matter where I looked, not a feather was to be seen. But here and there, the water rippled with the kerplunk of countless wood frogs diving into the shallow depths.
The characteristic call of the wood frog is indeed a duck like “quack.” These two-and-a-half-inch frogs are also characterized by a dark “robber’s” mask and brown or reddish body that blends with the leaf cover blanketing our forests.
After reproducing and laying eggs in these ephemeral vernal pools, wood frogs return to woodlands and vegetated wetlands for the remainder of the year. They survive winter by nestling under the forest leaf litter, where they employ freeze-thaw cycles that allow them to adapt to changing conditions. Visit www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/frozen-frogs.html  to see a short and fascinating video of this process.
Another frog just beginning to sing in the region is the spring peeper, whose “eeping” can be heard emanating from swampy thickets and wetlands. Although silent, spotted salamanders are also on the move now.
For a local opportunity to learn more about each of these amphibians, visit the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) in Dingmans Ferry, PA.
This weekend, two programs will be held. “Salamanders, Frogs and More!” is scheduled for Saturday, April 13 from 1 to 3 p.m., followed by the “Spring Peeper Search” from 7 to 9 p.m. Each costs $5.
Visit www.peec.org  or call 570/828-2319 for more information.