Why'd the salamander cross the road?
April showers don’t only bring May flowers – they also bring thousands of salamanders. For New Yorkers, you may get a chance to see special nighttime visitors this month. Various types of salamanders migrate from forests to wetlands every spring.
Salamanders usually migrate during warm, rainy nights above forty degrees Fahrenheit. Spectators have the best chance seeing spotted salamanders, Jefferson salamanders, blue spotted salamanders, and marbled salamanders. You might even get the chance to see other amphibians, like the wood frog. Nights featuring thousands of salamanders are called “Big Nights” – this spring we should expect a few Big Nights and some “Medium Nights” or “Small Nights” with less populous migrations.
Salamanders migrate to reach woodland pools to reproduce. Woodland pools are temporary wetlands that form in the forests after the rain. The annual migration of salamanders is an indicator of a well-functioning ecosystem for upstate New York. The migration distances are often short, varying from a few hundred feet to close to a quarter of a mile. Forests and wetlands are disconnected by development and often these treks involve moving across roads and pavements.
Salamanders are slow moving and very small, thus they are vulnerable to being run over by moving vehicles – even in low traffic areas! Volunteers are encouraged to participate in observing salamander crossings to warn oncoming drivers. Citizens can also help by noting where migrations occur, keeping record of traffic patterns, checking the weather, and counting migrating amphibians. Many nature centers and parks, such as Baltimore Woods Nature Center in Marcellus, offer “amphibian alerts” that let you know when they expect a visit from the amphibian visitors. Additionally, many community groups come together to watch salamander crossings together.
Check out your local New York State Park or Nature Center for more information.