By Paige Lester-Niles, Camp Director
I love the sounds of the critters at Eagle’s Nest. Some of them sing very loud songs, but are so small that we don’t often see them. That’s true for the Spring Peepers – tiny amphibians that are only about an inch (if that much) in length. Even though they are tiny, these small creatures sure can make a lot of noise!
Most springs we start hearing the peepers between the swimming lake and the settling pond. Their chorus is cheerful and heralds in the start of spring, letting us know that camp is right around the corner. This year the chorus has been louder than ever before, and has spread beyond their usual stomping grounds.
Richard, our Garden Manager, was the first to notice that something was amiss. One morning in early March he was weeding the garlic bed when he heard a noise in the green house. When he opened the door to check it out he was greeted by the loudest spring peeper song he had ever heard, and then he realized that the tiny frogs were COVERING the inside of the windows in the green house! He tried to gently collect all of them in a compost bucket to rehome them near the creek, but as soon as he put a few in, more would hop out, and they seemed to be multiplying while he worked!
By lunch time, it became evident that something was up. The Spring Peepers were everywhere! The lakes and ponds were hopping with peepers and they had found their way into the Salt Mines bathrooms, the back porch of the Dining Hall, the Fee area and even the Cabin Tree Tops counselor area (which is HUGE)! Our Property Manager Kyle had no idea what to do. He had dealt with a similar incident with Cicadas back in the 80’s, but he was still dumbfounded.
Luckily Frank, our Assistant Camp Director, had worked at a nature center prior to starting at Eagle’s Nest. Most of Frank’s experience was with corn snakes and a sugar glider named Elvis, but he did know a thing or two about spring peeps. Frank gathered up the other PO Boys (Ed and Ben), gave them each a pair of safety goggles and waders from the Explorers Club area, and set out! Frank knew that spring peepers usually eat a diet of ants, beetles, and spiders, and he also knew that there were a BUNCH of spiders in the cellar below Mo’s Hillside. With the protective gear on, they headed to Mo’s where Kyle met them with three industrial size fans. They went deep into the cellar and placed the fans so that they would blow air and the smell of the spiders from the depths of Mo’s to the far reaches of camp. Once the fans were set, Frank began to sing a familiar song; it was the spring peeper mating call. Before Kyle had a chance to say “Well, I …” spring peepers were arriving in droves! When they looked out beyond Mo’s there was a swarm of peepers as far as they could see. They had to jump out of the way to avoid being covered in the little hoppers.
Frank continued to sing the peeper song until most of the peepers had made their way into the cellar where they’ll be able to eat spiders to their heart’s content. The OA Residents, who live in Mo’s Hillside during the OA semester have said that the sound of the peepers in the basement helps lull them to sleep at night. But they also said that it seems to be getting louder…