03/3/11

Celebrating Spring Peepers! Tiny Frogs with a Mighty Voice

Now that it’s March, it’s almost time for the peepers to usher in spring!

Renowned science writer Carl Safina describes spring peepers so beautifully in his new book The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World. I enjoy reading anything by Safina, who usually writes about the ocean, sea animals, or birds. He’s won many awards for his work, including the MacArthur “genius award.” Safina’s writing reminds me of Rachel Carson’s—very lyrical, yet not sentimental. In this book, he writes mainly about a year he spent in a cabin on Long Island. In the chapter, “March: Out Like a Lamb, ” he writes this about spring peepers:

I open a window to let in the season’s lushest, most delicious sound. It’s from tiny tree frogs that come to water to go a-courting—Spring Peepers. So far, these little amphibians remain abundant. And for as long as they’ve been, and as long as they are, their singing makes the difference between the night of winter and the breath of spring…

Hearing them is easy. Seeing them takes some effort. But even after I step into the shallows as deep as my boots allow, even though I hear calls coming from the half-submerged vegetation right around me—well within the halo of my flashlight—they’re all but invisible. They’re smaller than the tip of your thumb, colored like dead leaves. The majority of my neighbors—even many who were raised here— have never seen one. Many people assume the callers are crickets. But the sound and the season are so different, one might logically assume the moon is just the sun at night.

Safina goes on to describe how as a teenager he taught himself how to find spring peepers by following the sound into the woods at night, but they were very elusive. He finally found one and

…when that tiny movement caught my eye, I saw the littlest frog I’d ever seen, his bubble-gum throat puffed almost as big as his body, calling his heart out. That mighty sound from that tiny body appealed to my teenage sensibilities. His was a strong, clear voice, defiantly undaunted about being so small a soul in so big a world.

Spring peepers Safina writes are a “strong and joyous life-affirming presence” and he would

…gladly suffer a chilly bedroom just to open a window in spring when the peepers are at their peak, and let the exuberant trilling chorus resonate in my chest. “We’re alive,” they seem to say, “and time is short.” No sound in our region is so welcome and welcoming, so revivifying, as peepers in full spring chorus. Or so seemingly unlikely. Out of dust, God is said to have made one man. But here, out of mud, such song!

To celebrate peepers and spring, Susan created a poster for Earth Day 2011, with a wonderful photograph by Richard D. Bartlett. Enjoy!

02/4/11

Frogs & Football: The Horned Frogs

At this time of the year, while frogs and toads are deep in hibernation (in our part of the world anyway), our Google alerts for frog news are full of stories about Horned Frogs, not the frog species, but rather the sports teams. Not being much of a sports fan, I always ignore these stories. But this year, we finally decided it was time to learn a little about these Horned Frogs.

It turns out that the Horned Frogs are the 18 varsity athletic teams that represent Texas Christian University. The Horned Frog mascot first appeared in 1897, and by 1915, it appeared on the TCU seal. During the post-WWII years, the Horned Frog mascot was in costume, on stationery, class rings, and the band’s bass drum. In 1979 the mascot was renamed from Addy the All-American Frog to Super Frog.

The women’s teams are known as the Lady Frogs. TCU once had a bumper sticker that said “My Princess Turned into a Frog.”

But This Horned Frog is Actually a Lizard!

It turns out, however, that the “horned frog” nickname and mascot refers to the Texas horned lizard, also known as the “horned frog.” The popular name comes from the lizard’s rounded body and blunt snout, which gives it a toad- or frog-like appearance. The Texas horned lizard, along with at least three other species of horned lizard, has the ability to squirt an stream of blood from the corners of the eyes and sometimes from its mouth for a distance of up to 5 ft (1.5 m).

Texas Horned Lizard (photo from Wikipedia)

Some Native American peoples regard horned lizards as sacred—the animal is a common motif in Native American art of the Southwestern U.S. and Mexico. The Texas horned lizard is also the state reptile of Texas.

Go Frogs!

So before the football season is officially over this Sunday, we thought we’d introduce you to one of the TCU teams, the Horned Frogs football team. It competes as a member of the Mountain West Conference, but is due to move to the Big East Conference for the 2012 season. The Frogs have won two national championships and 15 conference championships. Legendary players include Bob Lilly, Sammy Baugh, Davey O’Brien, and LaDainian Tomlinson.

The Horned Frogs won the 2011 Rose Bowl, beating Wisconsin, 21-19.

And if you’d like to learn about the real Horned Frogs (the amphibians, not the lizards), check out our 10 Weirdest and Most Unusual Frogs post, which introduces the Ornate Horned Frog. We were so entranced with this frog that Susan created a poster about it (proceeds to benefit amphibian conservation).

 
 

© 2011 Frogs Are GreenPhotograph by Richard D. Bartlett

Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday!

11/24/10

GREEN FRIDAY – Frog Gifts for the Holidays

Although this Friday is Black Friday, we’d like to offer an alternative: GREEN FRIDAYa day to order some wonderful frog gifts online—no pushing and shoving at the big box stores requiredl!  Enjoy!

FROG BOOK

Frog by Thomas Marent

Frog by nature photographer Thomas Marent features over 400 truly stunning images of frogs and other amphibians. A beautifully designed and produced book (published by DK), Frog is guaranteed to turn anyone into a frog enthusiast.

FROG PUZZLE

For kids ages 9-12 (and for puzzle-loving adults) here’s a good project for a winter’s day—a 300-piece Ravensburger puzzle of colorful poison dart frogs.

FROG CALENDAR

A gorgeous mini-calendar for frog lovers.

ADOPT A FROG

Adopting a frog or other animal from the World Wildlife Fund is a great gift for a child or an adult who cares about animals.

For a $50 adoption, you will receive:

  • plush frog
  • adoption certificate
  • full-color photo of a red-eyed tree frog
  • spotlight card full of fascinating information about your frog

Ipad/Ipod Apps

If you’re planning to buy your loved one a new ipod or ipad, why not fill it with a few frog or amphibian apps! Refer to our recent post on apps.

screenshot from the FROGS! app

SAVE THE FROGS totebag:

Forget plastic bags. Do your shopping with this cool eco-friendly Save the Frogs totebag and help support a great amphibian conservation organization.

PLUSH FROG

Here’s a cute frog to cuddle with: Ty Pluffies Pond Frog

CLOTHES FOR KIDS and ADULTS

Frogs Are Green Tees

Send a positive eco-message with our It Is Easy to be Green T-shirt with art by internationally renowned illustrator Paul Zwolak. Available in kids and adult sizes. (Proceeds go to amphibian conservation organizations.)

FROG SLIPPERS

We’re not sure we can resist buying these cozy frog slippers for the women in our lives.

FROG GIFTS FOR BABY

Happy Blankies

When you buy a blanket from Happy Blankie, one is also donated to a child in need. The blankies, available in different sizes, are made with luxuriously plush “minky” dot fabric, trimmed and back with silky, charmeuse satin.

ANGEL DEAR PILLOWS, BLANKETS, AND ACCESSORIES FOR BABY

Angel dear features cashmere-soft baby blankets, rattles, clothes etc. I have the frog pillow below, which has been adopted by our new “baby” (an 8-month-old kitten) as her preferred place to nap. It is unbelievably soft and cuddly!

Frogs Are Green Onesie

Let the youngest member of your family spread the word about our amphibian friends with a Frogs Are Green Onesie. (Proceeds go to amphibian conservation organizations.)

POSTERS

This year at Frogs Are Green a couple of amazing artists have donate their work to help our cause.

Children’s book illustrator Sherry Neidigh donated her art for this lovely poster—A Frog’s Dream: Save Our Home. (Proceeds go to amphibian conservation organizations.)

Paul Zwolak donated his art for this poster —It Is Easy Being Green. (Proceeds go to amphibian conservation organizations.)


STOCKING STUFFERS

Frog key chain

My husband gave me this frog key chain, which has a button activated bright LED light and makes “Ribbet” sounds. Occasionally I bump my purse and my keychain starts ribbeting, and I enjoy seeing people’s reactions!

08/13/10

Many thanks, and a red-eyed tree frog for you (rerun)

Susan and I are hosting family and friends this week and so will be re-running a few posts from this past year. It’s been a HOT summer in the NYC area. We thought we’d re-post a holiday post to remind us of cooler days ahead. Also, if you’re a teacher this is a nice little poster to put up in your classroom in September. This post is originally from November 2009.

We have a lot to be grateful for at FROGS ARE GREEN. We’ve received over 10,000 visitors since we started the blog back in May. (Update: we are now up to 4500 visitors a month!). We are so grateful for your comments and for your participation in our blog.

As a token of our thanks, Susan designed a poster of our mascot, the Red-Eyed Tree Frog, that you can download and print out for FREE (in three different sizes). We hope you enjoy it and will put up a copy at your home, school, or office to spread the message about our amphibian friends.

Don’t forget to check our galleries of our photo contest photos, wonderful frog art from kids, and photos of wild backyards! (Click on the pictures in the right column of the blog. Feel free to send us your pictures to be included, too!)

Click here and it will take you to the download page.

red-eye-frog-poster-blog-sm

Update 8/10: We have two contests going on right now—a photo contest and a kids’ art contest. Summer is a good time to take pictures of frogs and to do some drawing, so please consider entering! See Contest link at top of page.

03/11/10

FROGS ARE GREEN Earth Day Contest

copyright Susan Newman

Design © 2010 Frogs Are Green - Susan Newman

I remember the first Earth Day forty years ago. I did a project with my friend Linda about endangered animals. Everyone in the entire school went outside on a gorgeous spring day to pick up garbage on the roads around the school. We were all so excited.

I think people forget that everyone was excited about Earth Day and about helping the environment then. The issue hadn’t become politicized. The country was united after the polluted Cuyahoga River went up in flames.

Both Democrats and Republicans in Washington supported and passed clear air and water regulations. These new tough laws were incredibly effective. When I was kid growing up on Long Island, you knew you were getting close to New York City because you could see and smell a layer of brown smog above the city. After these regulations were passed, the smog disappeared. Since the Reagan administration, however, tough regulations against corporations and businesses are taboo.

I wish we could recapture this bipartisan environmental effort. President Obama was elected partly because so many young people, motivated by environmental issues, voted for him. It didn’t matter if they were on the right or the left.

On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, we’d like you to ignore the politics and recapture this excitement about preserving the environment and about enjoying and reconnecting to nature.

To that end, we’re sponsoring an Earth Day contest (open to all ages).  Please send us one simple practical idea by April 19th that we can all use to help the environment or reconnect with nature, guided by these words:

RENEW

REBUILD

RECONNECT

RETHINK

It doesn’t have to be a grand or complicated idea. For example, maybe someone can think of a way for people to remember to bring reusable grocery bags to the store. The winner, announced on Earth Day, will receive either the poster above or below (printed on FSC certified paper) or a 100% cotton t-shirt or onesie, made and printed in the U.S  (their choice):

design copyright Susan Newman, photo by Dr. Kerry Kriger, Save the Frogs

Design © 2010 Frogs Are Green - Susan Newman, frog photograph courtesy Dr. Kerry Kriger, Save the Frogs