Hiking our trails on a summer evening can be an enriching experience full of seasonal sights and sounds that cannot be found at any other time.
Many animals limit their activity during the hottest times of the day and go foraging for food at dusk when the air is cooler. The white-tailed deer that roam our property will likely be nibbling on red osier dogwood leaves within the western meadows. Cottontail rabbits will be sharing in the bounty of vegetation that has sprouted in the summer sun. With keen eyes, evidence of these foragers can be found along branches that line the trails.
The Music of Insects
The air of summer evenings is filled with a symphony of insect songs. Partaking in an evening hike increases the chances that you will hear these creatures putting on a musical show for you. Crickets and katydids fill the evening with their mating calls, searching for love on our vast 185 acres of land. Contrary to popular belief, crickets and katydids do not make noise by rubbing their legs together, but rather use their ridged wings to chirp. The sound they make is called stridulating, and the warmer the evening is, the more songs you will hear. But no good musical is complete without a light show. As the sun drops over the western horizon, hundreds of fireflies begin their illuminated dance over the prairies at the Center.
The insects are not the only instruments in this composition of sounds. Throughout the summer, frogs of different species begin calling throughout the evening. The tenor “plunk” of the green frog may reverberate over Mystery Lake, or the soprano trill of the Eastern gray tree frog may call out over Teal Pond. The sound of the bullfrog fills out the bass in this band, with a low mooing sound reminiscent of the bovine from which it got its name.