Crow’s Nest: A Big Night, but not a Very Big Night

March 8, 2022

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager.

American toad crouching on road at night

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Last night was certainly warm enough, and it had rained a little during the day, and a storm threatened to pass through. We saw about a dozen yellow spotted salamanders in a walk up and down Piersol Road, but no wood frogs. I think many of the salamanders and most of the wood frogs have already reached the wetlands that are their destination for mating season, having earlier traveled from upland forests to floodplain valley on other nights that were good enough for migration even though they weren’t so warm and rainy to make them “big nights.” Big nights are a spectacle to witness, but we were happy to observe what we did last night and are already enjoying the calls of wood frogs and spring peepers from the wetlands at Crow’s Nest Preserve.

What we did see in numbers is the next member of the cast of the spring chorus: American Toad. Since I last checked this species has been moved to another genus: formerly Bufo americanus, it is now classified as Anaxyrus americanus. Soon their trilling will begin as the wood frogs’ gabbling quiets down.

Last year our big night wasn’t until March 17, but any warm, rainy night from the end of February through the end of March is fair game.