• ID on the egg masses at Observatory Park?

    Question

    I saw a large mass (6 to 8 inches diameter) of amphibian eggs in the pond at Observatory park yesterday (3-24-21). Way too big for wood frogs which are croaking right now. What else could it be at this early date?

    Naturalist's Response

    Dagnabbit, I was in the same park on the same day, but was stuck indoors. Good job spotting those!

    You’re right that we’ve only started to hear Wood Frog and Spring Peeper mating calls this week; it’s likely far too soon for them to have created large egg masses.

    Similarly, the Gray Treefrogs, American Toads and Leopard Frogs haven’t made a peep yet at Observatory Park, so it’s even more unlikely to be their work.

    Just based on the timing, my top two suspects are Jefferson’s Salamanders and Spotted Salamanders. They started moving into the pools during the February warm snap, and their offspring might have developed into egg masses by now.

    In the meantime, take a look at this outstanding guide to identifying egg masses in the northern United States from the nice folks at the Orianne Society. (They’re in New England, but the guide features many of the same amphibians we have in our spring pools.) See if any of those look familiar!

    Thanks for your question.

    -Naturalist Chris Mentrek