Thursday, May 08, 2008

Music Lost - Historical Toad Memories

Recently, as I shared my discoveries of chorus frogs and cricket frogs around our yard with my mother, she commented that she misses hearing frog choruses in the spring around their home in suburban west Wichita. She then reminded me of some "ancient history"....

Our family moved to Wichita in 1971, moving into the home that my parents still live in today. That home is on a manmade large pond/small lake, next to a natural creek. There has always been a lot of wildlife around their neighborhood, from water snakes to nesting green herons.

For the first several years that we lived in Wichita, there was a mass outpouring of baby toads every year. They were literally everywhere, by the thousands. You couldn't drive down the road without squashing them by the hundreds. Even walking without squashing them was hard for a few days each summer.

Mom said that she hasn't seen a similar phenomenon for many, many years now - in fact, since just a few years after they moved to Wichita.

That is quite sad to me. Even sadder is that there are no chorus frogs or cricket frogs singing in their neighborhood at all anymore. What has changed? I don't know for sure. Most of the houses had already been built in our neighborhood before we moved in, although in the intervening years there has certainly been a lot of residential development upstream from their home.

Maybe it was the cumulative impact of development. I also have to wonder about lawn chemicals - when we moved in during the early 1970's, few folks used lawn services. Some certainly used lawn chemicals themselves, but I don't think their use was as common back then as it is now.

Whatever the reason, I mourn the loss of the frog chorus every spring. I can only hope it's not a harbinger of things to come.

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