Posted by Smokey Stover on February 19, 2004
In Reply to: Peeper frog posted by ESC on February 18, 2004
: : : : Hello,
: : : : Can anyone tell me anything about this phrase? I am wondering what kind of bird they mean and the origin of the saying...
: : : : "When peepers sing loud and long and late, the weather will cooperate."
: : : : Thank you!
: : : : Lorie
: : : I'll look and see if I can find this one under weather-related sayings. One thing I am wondering about is whether "peepers" refers to birds or crickets.
: : I think it's "spring peepers" they're talking about. They are little nocturnal frogs that live in trees and bushes in woodlands and forest edges, and on warm nights with the windows open you can hear them making their racket. They are pretty common throughout the northeastern U.S.
: : If you never heard one, or live in a region of Earth where they don't exist, you can go here to find out about them and even listen to what they sound like: http://www.cmnh.org/collections/vertzoo/frogs/crucifer.html
: PEEPER - 1. also peep(er) frog, peeper toad, peeping frog. A tree frog, chiefly NEast, N Cent.cricket frog, hyla, March peeper, night peeper, spring peeper.sounding much like a bird's call-note, comes from the moss and leaves at the water's eduge.Peeper - Pickering's frog, called by some "swamp lizard," the much loved musical harbinger of spring in Pennsylvania bogs and ponds. 2. A chorus frog. 3. sanderling. From "Dictionary of American Regional English," Volume IV by Joan Houston Hall (2002, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., and London, England).
: Merriam-Webster online says a sanderling is " a small widely distributed sandpiper."
"Peepers" obviously means different things to different people, especially if they live in different regions. Here's what I know, or think I know. Some people call tree frogs peepers. They peep at night in great numbers on trees in middle and late spring wherever there are trees, including the trees in big cities. Probably not all trees, but everywhere that I have lived in the Northeastern U.S. tree frogs have brightened the evenings in the spring or early summer. In my area, the word peeper more commonly was used for an aquatic frog living in natural bodies of quiet water, like bogs and ponds and lagoon-like backwaters. It is really quite a concert when myriads of little froggies sing their hearts out in a cheerful racket, punctuated by the lower-pitched resonant ker-plunk of the bullfrogs in the same pond. I've heard these choruses only in the daytime, possibly because I've never spent spring nights in the vicinity of these creatures. I've never encountered any peepers singing among the leaves at water's edge, only right in the water. It's a little odd to hear this pleasant din without being able to see a single frog. Even from the edge of the water you have to look hard to see one of them. It may be difficult to find one of these concerts to listen to these days, since the number of amphibians has been so greatly reduced in recent years, presumably by environmental degradation. I'm not sure any such creature lives in the British Isles, and if not, I'm sorry for what the inhabitants there are missing.
One of the sources mentioned sanderlings. These and some other shore birds (and baby chicks) are sometimes called "peeps"; I have never heard them called peepers. The sound track included on the cmnh site (which stands for what?) sounds nothing like any peepers I have heard. (Perhaps it's my computer.) I also found the text confusing. SS