Spring Peeper

A Pinkletink

A Northern Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) commonly called a "Pinkletink" in Martha's Vineyard.
A Northern Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) called a "Pinkletink" in Martha's Vineyard.

The Northern Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) - formerly Hyla crucifer, commonly called a "Pinkletink" in Martha's Vineyard, is a small tree frog only about an inch (2.5 cm) long. The Peeper is distinguished by the dark cross forming an often incomplete X shaped mark on its back. This X is the origin of the species name crucifer, meaning “one who bears a cross” in Latin.


Spring Peepers are rarely seen. But starting in mid to late March at Distant Hill Gardens, usually before the ice is out of the ponds, they are always heard. They are one of the first signs of spring here in New England.


Spring Peepers have large "vocal sacs" under their chins. They pump these sacs full of air until they look like a full balloon, then let out a mighty "peep" while discharging the air. The easiest way to see calling Peepers is to look for their shiny vocal sacs, which look like 25-cent pieces, inflating and deflating as they call. Only males emit the loud peeping call, which establishes a territory and attracts females. On warm spring evenings, the concentrations of calling "Pinkletinks" around ponds and wetlands can be incredibly loud.