Crow’s Nest: A big night?

March 25, 2015

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager


Spring is running late and we haven’t yet had any nights of (relatively) warm rain when the yellow-spotted salamanders and wood frogs begin their migration to vernal pools for breeding. If any of today’s rain is still falling tonight, or if tomorrow night brings rain, will the wild phenomenon begin?

The weather has to be in the 40’s or warmer, and the rain needs to fall so the critters don’t dry out. If these conditions are met the spectacle will occur. Watch out for the critters on the roads, and if you don’t have to go out on these first warm wet nights of spring, stay off the roads! Instead grab a flashlight and carefully walk around looking for them. There’s nothing else like it!

Remember that even though water runs downhill, not all wetlands are at the bottom of hills near creeks. Several perched wetlands can be found at high elevations around French Creek State Park and the migrations take place where the amphibians are moving from their forested homes to these temporary, seasonal pools. (Vernal pools—ponds that dry up later in the spring—don’t support fish that would otherwise prey upon eggs or young.)

Not only is this migration a milestone of spring, but it is a unique opportunity to see wildlife that lives all around us but is usually unseen.