David Clements’ frog researcher Sterling Balzer found his first red-legged frog egg mass on Feb. 15.

Green Beat: Spring has sprung and the frog research is hopping

Many signs in the natural world show that spring is already here

It’s a special time of year here on the west coast.

The time of year when our boasting about signs of spring gets us into trouble with fellow Canadians to the east.

When I mentioned floral signs of spring to a friend who just moved from the west coast to Ontario he replied: “It is still winter here so please don’t talk to me too much about flowers blooming!”

Over the last few days, I’ve been seeing signs of spring everywhere.

The first camellia just burst into bloom in our front garden. The crocuses and daffodils have been showing their colours for a while. The blossoms on the cherry trees that line some of our boulevards are about to burst or have already.

Now wild blossoms also join the scene: salmonberry flowers, alder catkins and the enigmatic white Indian plum blossoms in cascading clusters.

And the bird songs are changing. Just yesterday I said to my wife, “listen to that trill!”

The short chirping calls of the dark-eyed junco was giving way to the sweet trill heard in spring. Likewise, chickadee chittering is changing to “hey sweetie.”

Yes, there is a clear message here — it’s springtime when thoughts turn to romance, in the bird world and elsewhere.

If you listen very carefully, you might be able to discern the sound of the Northern red-legged frog coming from underwater. Yes, I said underwater.

An online guide describes the call as “a weak series of five to seven notes, sounding like uh-uh-uh-uh-uh” adding that “calls are made underwater and are easily missed.” Last year my frog researcher Curtis Abney actually heard the call.

This year my new frog researcher, Sterling Balzer, is jumping from pond to pond. The day after Valentine’s Day he found his first red-legged frog egg mass.

So like last year, spring has sprung early in the frog world here, a potential harbinger of climate change.

Geese are starting to fly overhead and V’s and other migratory birds are soon to arrive to build their spring nests, but birds of prey tend to get the head start. I have spotted a pair of nesting American kestrels on my way to work.

It is an awesome time to experience the yearly renewing of the earth.

And if you do see a particularly exceptional sign of spring, post a photo on Facebook so your snowbound friends and relatives can maybe enjoy it too.

David Clements, Ph.D. is Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at Trinity Western University

Langley Times

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