Week of March 10, 2024 – March 17, 2024

Elizabeth Suzedell staff member and Environmental Educator

by Elizabeth Suzedell, Environmental Educator

A 45°F and rainy March night sounds like the kind of evening most of us would want to spend hunkering down inside, staying cozy and dry. Not for amphibians! On the first rainy and relatively warm (40°+) nights of spring, salamanders and frogs come out of their winter burrows and migrate to vernal pools to mate. Even though it was still early March, this past Wednesday seemed to have just the right conditions for amphibians to start moving. With plenty of rain, temperatures around 45-50°F, and an already-thawed ground, I decided to head out with my rain gear and flashlights to a nearby forest.

As soon as I stepped foot onto the dark and wet forest road, I heard a faint song of spring peepers. Shortly after scanning the road with my flashlight, I found one of the little frogs, noted with an “X” shaped pattern on its back. A few steps ahead was a larger green frog enjoying the rain. After checking every salamander look-alike stick, I found an eastern newt, dotted with shiny red-orange spots. As I got closer to the vernal pool, I finally started to see spotted salamanders, covered with beautiful, bright-yellow spots. I watched with fascination as each slowly crawled across the road.

I went out thinking about only the amphibians, so it was a surprise when I discovered some invertebrates. There were a few different spiders, like an American nursery web spider, jeweled with beads of water on its tiny hairs. I almost jumped when I saw a larger creature moving along in the corner of my eye- it was a crayfish! It seemed to be on a mission to get to the creek, taking advantage of the continuing rainfall to keep it moist.

With all of the recent signs of spring, like more sunshine, migrating birds, early flowers blooming, and the beginning of the emergence of amphibians, it’s hard to believe that it’s still winter. I wish this would occur a little bit later like it normally does, but I can’t help but feel excited to see more amazing creatures come out of their winter refuges in the coming months. What early signs of spring have you been noticing?