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Harbingers of Spring

What harbingers of spring do you look forward to?  For me it is the sound of the peepers when I go out at night.  That high pitched repeating peep is one of the many signs that spring has arrived in Maine.

It also marks the beginning of Big Night in towns all over Maine.  The beginning of March here in our state signals the start of a movement called Big Night. The ground begins to thaw and amphibians begin their trek to a nearby vernal pool for breeding. Many of these creatures need to cross roads or bridges to arrive at a vernal pool. Volunteers are out in droves helping the massive migration of salamanders and frogs move to their breeding grounds safely.   In 2023, Maine Big Night (MBN) volunteers recorded and helped over 20,000 amphibians; 26% of them were roadkill. Each year MBN tries to increase the number of amphibians it saves!  Think about volunteering next year by going to the MBN website (

While Big Night might be “officially” over you can still go out and observe salamanders and wood frogs in the wild.  You can find these creatures in vernal pools around your town.  A vernal pool or spring pond is a body of water that only contains water for part of the year.  These ponds are vital breeding grounds for wood frogs, blue salamanders, and fairy shrimp, which must return to the pond in which they were born to breed. Locating a vernal pool near you provides a wonderful opportunity to visit this pool every spring to watch and listen to the activity.  

Think about taking out the book, Reptiles & Amphibians  by David S. Kirshner. This pocket guide book fits in your backpack and examines the characteristics and behavior of lizards, snakes, turtles, frogs, toads, and salamanders and discusses where to find them and what to look for such as size, color, behavior and other features. The ecology of the pool is special, too. That’s what makes it frog heaven. With fascinating facts and stunning photographs  The book, Frog Heaven: Ecology of the Vernal Pool by Doug Wechsler is a great book to borrow.  The Secret Pool by local author Kim Ridley introduces young readers to the wonders right underfoot as the voice of a vernal pool shares its secrets through the seasons, and sidebars provide fun facts on its inhabitants and the crucial role these small, often overlooked wetlands play in maintaining a healthy environment. These are just some of the books the Witherle Library has to help you with your observations and investigations.  Enjoy the sounds of spring and help celebrate Earth Day on Monday April 22nd!