Dear Bird Folks,
For the last week or so I’ve been hearing a bird calling in my backyard at night. The call is a simple “cheep.” Even though I’ve gone out every night with a flashlight, I can’t seem to find out what kind of bird is calling “cheep.” Any ideas?”
– Phil, Orleans
Are you sure it’s a bird calling “cheep” and not an old girlfriend referring to your spending habits? In fact, I don’t think that you are hearing “cheep” at all, but instead you are hearing “peep” as in spring peeper. The tiny spring peepers that won’t shut up in the spring have been quiet all summer and are now getting ready to hibernate. They have moved away from the vernal pools and back into the woods and fields. As a group they sound loud and raucous, but now they are alone, their simple “peep” is sweet and mellow. And they are tree frogs so they can climb trees and bushes, thus fooling us into thinking we are hearing a bird.
So put your flashlight away Phil, it’s almost impossible to find a spring peeper away from its breeding grounds. Plus it will be hard to explain to the Orleans Police why you are climbing in trees at night, with a flashlight, looking for frogs.