June 18 • 09:16 PM

Nature awakens from winter nap

April 16, 2008
I love gazing through my scrapbooks. The following appeared April 19, 1989:

Here I go again! Which is more lovely, Spring or Fall? Now that it is beginning to green-up and the birds are returning....surely it must be the spring season. Mother Nature is awakening from her winter nap and so many things to welcome. The spring peeper announces the arrival of spring, sometimes prematurely. I love its bell-like tones.

In early spring, toads come out of hibernation, having spent the winter buried three feet deep in loose soil. The males are the first to awaken and along with the spring peepers make their way through the grasses until they find a shallow breeding pool. Here they begin their mating calls (sort of a trill) which thrills me. My dad always said they had to be frozen three times before it was officially spring.

When a female is attracted, mating takes place. The male externally fertilizes the strings of jelly-like eggs that flow from the female's body. Within several days, many thousands of eggs hatch into tiny, black tadpoles. Most of them become dinner for fish, turtles and water birds.

When an animal or human bothers a toad, they secrete an acrid fluid which is irritating. Cats and dogs soon learn to leave them alone...I do also. It has been estimated that a toad is worth $20 to a gardener as a living insecticide.

Bullfrogs awaken later in the spring than toads and peepers. Their call sounds to me like someone strumming a large rubber band. He is slower in movement and is easy prey for animals and large waterbirds. Only a few get big enough to strum the rubber band.

It is a sad feeling to me in the fall when the Canada geese go south. I feel lonesome.. In the spring, it is a happy sound when they head north. The Canada goose is often incorrectly called the Canadian goose. There are 11 races of 'honkers' that live in scattered regions across the continent. They range in size from the 17-pound Canada goose to the tiny, 3-pound 'cackling' Canada goose which winters in the valley regions of California.

The Canada goose is a model of domestic faithfulness and dedication. They ordinarily mate for life and only in case of death will

one seek a new partner. They have a tendency to return

to the same breeding

grounds on which they

were hatched.

And that, my dears,

is your nature lesson

for today.

—Country Cousin

Castle Creek
06 - 18 - 19
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