Chubby Little Frog, Skinny Little Window

Illinois chorus frog


You can look at a hundred pictures of some animals, but it isn't until you actually see one that your brain can assemble a working search image. Perhaps pictures of frogs and real frogs are processed in different parts of the brain...or perhaps it's just my brain that works that way. At any rate, once we spotted one Pseudacris streckeri illinoensis, more jumped out at us, so to speak. It also didn't hurt that it was completely dark now, and the little frogs lost all concern for us in their quest to make a date...

It didn't take long to figure out that a number of male illinoensis tended to 'stand upright' when calling, grabbing the grass stalks with their strong forelimbs. If you're a little taller, you can call a little farther, perhaps. As long as we didn't keep a light trained on them, we were able to take flash pictures and catch them in mid-call. I was glad I remembered to bring my bracket rig along; that and a head lamp made the process a lot easier.

Here and there we came across females, floating in the water with their heads protruding, presumably listening to the staccato love songs all around them. By now the combined chorus of crucifer and illinoensis was nearly deafening. The peepers cranked out the short little high notes, with the chorus frogs just a tad lower and coming a little faster. So many peeps and chirps coming so fast, it seemed like the ear and brain couldn't process them fast enough, and they took on a flat, tinny quality.

I think it was Mike who commented on what a perfect night this was, and I agreed wholeheartedly.  It was still 71 degrees at seven o'clock, thanks to the warm and steady southern wind. Above us the clear sky was a spray of was a perfect night for frogs and froggers alike to strike while the iron was hot.

Then it was time to slosh back to the cars and leave the frogs to their urgent business. The next day the wind would turn, and rain and snow were promised. A few short weeks to call, to mate, to turn out the next link in a chain of frogs that started long ago, before returning to a quiet, hidden life in the sandy soil of a farmer's field.


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