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Amphibians Migrating

3-6-17-spotted-salamander-2-img_7608Vermonters were witness to a record-breaking (early) amphibian migration in the Champlain Valley last week on March 1st, when night temperatures were in the low 50’s.   Not only did it occur a week earlier than any other previous major migration, but records show that migration for the earliest amphibians in Vermont is now approximately two to three weeks earlier than it has been during the last decade. (as reported by Jim Andrews,

Spotted Salamanders, Four-toed Salamanders, Eastern Red-backed Salamanders, Blue-spotted Salamanders, Jefferson Salamanders, Spring Peepers, Wood Frogs and even an American Toad were on the move. According to Andrews, “this is a concern if the weather turns really cold and the ground and ponds refreeze. If that happens, many of the early migrants (that are not freeze tolerant) could freeze and die. If the weather stays relatively mild, with only short cold snaps, they should be fine.” Weather since these sightings has been unseasonably cold, and one can only hope they survived. (Photo: Spotted Salamander, Ambystoma maculatum)

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14 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    What a plight. Hopefully all those amphibians are safe.

    March 6, 2017 at 8:01 am

    • Alice, the amphibians that migrated last week didn’t have time to court, mate and lay eggs before the cold weather, so the eggs weren’t there to get frozen. If it warms for an extended period of time (long enough for amphibians to get to vernal pools, breed and lay eggs) and then gets cold, the eggs would be in danger of freezing.

      March 6, 2017 at 6:35 pm

  2. Kathie Fiveash

    Is it only the adults that are threatened by the cold? Would they die on land or still be in the water? I’m hoping they will be OK! I have not heard that they migrated here in Mass – maybe there was not enough rain to bring them out.

    March 6, 2017 at 8:02 am

    • Adults would be in the water. Breeding hasn’t taken place yet, so eggs aren’t an issue yet…sadly, it doesn’t look good for the earliest migrators…

      March 6, 2017 at 8:34 am

      • Alice Pratt

        So isn’t it even worse if there is no chance for eggs to survive?

        March 6, 2017 at 6:28 pm

  3. Wendy Weiger

    When I went outside just after 8 AM this morning, I heard what sounded like the trills of a red-winged blackbird. The sound was a bit distant, and I didn’t see the bird, so I can’t be 100% sure, but, on the other hand, that vocalization is very distinctive. That’s six days earlier than I’ve heard a blackbird up here before (I’m on the southern tip of Moosehead Lake in Maine; my record-keeping goes back to 2005). The bird might well have migrated up during the recent period of spring-like warmth, only to find himself trapped in our current resurgence of winter. It seems wild swings in temperature are becoming the norm as our climate warms overall. These swings could be devastating to many creatures.

    March 6, 2017 at 9:35 am

    • Kathie Fiveash

      I had large flocks of migrating rw blackbirds in Northampton MA more than a week ago – cacophony in the trees around my house!

      March 6, 2017 at 11:10 am

      • Wendy Weiger

        Were they earlier than usual for your location, Kathie?

        March 6, 2017 at 7:29 pm

  4. wow… hopefully adaptations will occur over time for the survival of all.

    March 6, 2017 at 9:46 am

  5. Cheron barton

    Carpe Diem!! Enjoy! Cheron

    Sent from my iPhone


    March 6, 2017 at 9:49 am

  6. Oh my gosh. As pleasant as the warm days have been, interspersed with what feels like “real winter” here in central Vermont, I can’t help feeling a sort of dread, thinking about how hard this must be for the flora and fauna to “make sense of”… And stories like this, abut the very vulnerable ‘canaries in the ecosystem-coal mine’ make it all too real…

    March 6, 2017 at 10:36 am

  7. Bill On The Hill...

    Fruit growers here in northern New England come to mind with the unusual warm days in mid – winter as well. If those blossoms up earlier than the norm, if a hard frost or freeze appears, it could do serious damage to apple growers trees, blueberry bushes, etc.
    Great photograph Mary, I believe I see your reflection in it’s eye…
    Bill Farr…

    March 6, 2017 at 12:11 pm

  8. Yes, I’m a bit worried about them as well. These wild swings in weather cannot be good for flora or fauna. There is a bit of built-in resilience, but how much can they take when it occurs multiple years in a row, I wonder?

    March 6, 2017 at 12:26 pm

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