Micro-Season: “This First Frog Calls” (2023)

We have entered the micro-season of “The First Frog Calls.” This is the first micro-season of the mini-season of First Summer. All the micro-seasons within First Summer are:

  • The First Frog Calls (May 05 – May 09)
  • The Earth Worms Rise (May 10 – May 14)
  • Bamboo Shoots Appear (May 15 – May 20)

The micro-seasons were established in 1685 by Japanese astronomer Shibukawa Shunkai. While they are specific to Japan, they can be useful to people all over the world. No matter where you live, you can use these seasons as a starting point for exploring the natural world.

To celebrate this season we will learn about Spring Peepers and read seasonal haiku by Buson, Issa, and Reichhold. 

Spring Peepers

One of the first frogs we hear in the northeastern part of the United States is the Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer). These frogs are about one inch in length with bodies of various shades of tan, brown, green, or gray with dark crosses across its back. The underside of the Spring Peeper is usually a cream color.  

The call of a Spring Peeper is described as “a high-pitched whistling or peeping sound repeated about 20 times a minute”.(2) These calls are made by male frogs.  The louder and faster the male frog calls, the more likely it is to attract a mate. 

The audio file below was recorded on April 16, 2006, in Ontario, Canada by Wikimedia user BorisBlue. It contains the calls of both Spring Peepers and Wood Frogs. 

Wikimedia Link

This recording was made about an hour past sunset. The peepers produce the high “peeps” and the wood frogs emit the low, chattering tones in the background.


The Spring Peeper is part of the genus Pseudacris. Frogs within the genus Pseudacris are also known as chorus frogs. 

The word Pseudacris comes from two Greek words pseudes (false) and akris (locust).(2)  It is suspected that these frogs were given this name because of their insect-like calls. 

Other species in the Pseudacris genus are the Baja chorus frog, the Pacific tree frog, and the Appalachian mountain chorus frog.  Depending on your source there are 17 or 19 different species within the genus Pseudacris.(2)  

Habitat and Life Cycle

Spring Peepers live in moist wooded areas near ponds or other wetlands.  They can be found throughout the eastern part of the United States and as far west as Texas and Minnesota. 

They breed in the early spring and the females lay eggs in vernal pools, ponds, and wetlands. After the eggs are fertilized by the males, the eggs can hatch anywhere between 2 to 14 days later.  The incubation period is dependent on the environmental temperature. 

Spring Peepers survive the winter by hibernating in the mud, under logs, or in holes in trees.  Spring Peepers may live up to 3 years.(3)

Spring Peepers are abundant in the United States and National Geographic says that “Spring peepers are to the amphibian world what American robins are to the bird world.”(5)  However, they are experiencing a decline in population due to the loss of wetlands.     

Some Fun Facts About the Spring Peeper:

  • The Latin word crucifer, which is part of the Spring Peeper scientific name Pseudacris crucifer, means cross-bearer.(3) 
  • Spring Peepers are amazingly tolerant to cold weather.  When temperatures drop below freezing they can produce glucose-based cryoprotectant that prevents their cells from freezing. (2,3)
  • When Spring peepers need to migrate, they almost always do this at night. It is suspected that they do this in order to prevent drying out.(3)
Spring Peeper Pseudacris crucifer http://cars.er.usgs.gov/herps/Frogs_and_Toads/P_crucifer/p_crucifer.html
Spring Peeper; Photo USGS

Seasonal Haiku

The World Kigo Database explains that “frogs” can be kigo for spring, summer, or autumn.  Spring-specific frog kigo include “first voice of the frog”, “frog voice afar”, “frog voice during the day”, “frog voice in the evening”’, and “frog concert”. 

In The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words as selected by Kenkichi Yamamoto, we find “frogs” and “tadpoles” are listed as spring kigo.  When we look at  Jane Reichhold’s   A Dictionary of Haiku we find both of those terms along with “salamanders” as potential kigo. 

When I wrote about this season last year,  I looked at Basho’s well-known frog haiku and the response haiku from Issa and Buson. 


old pond--
a frog-jumping-into-water
(translated by David G. Lanoue)

Check out that post if you want to learn more about the tradition of response haiku. 

Now, let’s read some seasonal haiku.


when I stand still
in the far distance I can hear
the frogs . . .
(retrieved from World Kigo Database)
misty moon of spring -
water and sky are muddied
by the frogs
(retrieved from World Kigo Database)


the big hackberry tree
as his shield...
croaking frog
(translated by David G. Lanoue)
spring's first frog--
another drop falls
from the twig
(translated by David G. Lanoue)
in every direction
ten thousand blessings...
croaking frogs
(translated by David G. Lanoue)

Jane Reichhold

scattered clouds
shaped by frogs
naming the first stars

Haiku Invitation

This week’s haiku invitation is to write a haiku or senryu that references spring amphibians. 

Share your haiku in the comments below, or post on your own page and link back to this post. I can’t wait to read what you write!  


  1. “Call of the Wild”; RangerRick.org
  2. “Chorus Frog”; Wikipedia
  3. “Spring Peeper”; National Wildlife Federation
  4. “Spring Peeper”; Wikipedia
  5. “Spring Peeper”; National Geographic
  6. “Spring Peeper-audio file”; Wikimedia.org
  7. “Frog (kawazu, kaeru)”; World Kigo Database

Buson’s haiku were retrieved from the World Kigo Database. Issa’s haiku was retrieved from David G. Lanoue’s HaikuGuy.com.  Jane Reichhold’s Haiku retrieved from A Dictionary of Haiku


59 thoughts on “Micro-Season: “This First Frog Calls” (2023)

Add yours

  1. croaking frogs
    chittering birds
    evening pinot noir

    Loved today’s post. I always have thought frogs only croak, but the two sounds from the two different frogs were a revelation. Some of the evening ‘insect’ sounds I hear may be frogs! Thanks, LaMon

    1. Spirituality…your haiku sounds like a perfect evening. I’m with you that I have only known frogs to croak so maybe I have not equated the sounds I hear to frogs. ~nan

    2. Hi LaMon, Yes, I have had that experience before too when I think I hear on species soon the to realize later its a completely different species. I even had that happen this year when I thought I heard a Spring Peeper really early in the season, to then realize it was an American Woodcock. Thanks for sharing and adding to the conversation!

  2. Mark, Lovely post about frogs. Here’s my pairs;
    One here all at the title link;

    帰る kaeru

    eye inspects
    gully bank slowly
    frog startles

    Warm spring had local croakers sunning themselves; footfalls had them leaping.

    © JP/dh

      1. I have used a few syllable counters online a time or two when I was submitting to a journal that requires a particular syllable count. It was useful.

      2. Apparently most folks at the dog park (or other places that I’ve seen that sometimes provide bags) buy green bags. I suppose if you don’t have a daily paper that gets a plastic bag… or a friend who can provide such… or even use a grocery bag…

        I don’t think you’ll find clear bags in the pet sections or stores. Privacy for the public? Who wants to see ‘it’ though we know just what ‘it’ is 😉

    1. Hi Jules, What a great collection of haiku, American Sentences, and new information to add to this week’s discussion. Thanks for sharing your work and linking up! I hope you have a good weekend.

  3. Mark,
    Once again, great information. I am going to have to head outside to see if I can hear spring peepers this evening.

    vernal pools…
    listening to the croaking
    of frogs
    ~Nancy Brady, 2023

    children chasing tadpoles
    with plastic cups
    –spring picnic
    ~Nancy Brady, 2023

    early morning…
    she awakens to
    a frog in her throat
    ~Nancy Brady, 2023


    1. Ooh, I just love those last two, Nan. Both have a certain whimsy that I adore in haiku.

      1. Thanks, Eavonka. That’s sweet of you to say. There is just something in me that can’t always be serious about the haiku I write (hence the last one), but the second one is straight from the memory of an end-of-year Girl Scout picnic at a state park. Everyone was catching tadpoles in cups in the spillway of the dam. When I think of tadpoles, that immediately comes to mind.

    2. Hi Nan, these are all wonderful! The ‘children chasing tadpoles” brings back so many memories of spending time at the local pond playing in the mud! Thanks!

  4. tadpoles
    the journey to find
    their voice

    I just love it when you provide sound clips. As I grew up in the southwest, I never knew about Spring Peepers. I learn so much every week from you, Mark. Thank you so much for providing such educational prompts!

    1. Eavonka, Thanks for the kind words, and what a wonderful haiku! I like that there is the literal and the suggestive meaning contained in these lines. It’s great! Thanks for sharing!

      1. Thank you! These posts are definitely one of the highlights of my week.

  5. I’ve never heard frogs like that Mark.
    love your haikus as always.


    frogs sing like song birds
    rivet rivet croaking not
    unique leap frog choir

    1. Hi Cindy, thanks for writing and sharing your work with us. Glad you enjoyed the post and what a great haiku. I hope you have a good rest of your week.

      1. Hey Mark. oh you’re welcome.. most likely I didn’t it wrong as I’m not a great form girl but it was fun. I did and I will.. you too Mark! 💞

    2. Nice, Cindy. They certainly do sing like songbirds. Your “frog choir” line reminded me of the Budweiser frogs although I’m sure that wasn’t your intent. ~Nan

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