Monday, February 15, 2016

Salamander Breeding - Phase Two

Salamander breeding season at Blue Jay Barrens is proceeding in what has become a normal pattern.  Activity begins with the arrival of Jefferson Salamanders in late December or early January and progresses in waves before ending with the arrival of Spotted Salamanders in March or April.  In advance of a forecast rainstorm, I examined the salamander eggs that had been deposited in the pond during a late December breeding event.

Jefferson Salamander eggs from that event had been attached to submerged plant stalks.  After roughly a month in the water, they were showing a characteristic opaque appearance with a greenish cast from algae growing on the outside of the masses.

Submerged clay tile and boards, intended to receive eggs from the Streamside Salamander, remained unused.  Streamside Salamanders typically enter the pond several weeks after the first of the Jeffersons.

Rain began during late evening of February 2 and continued until early the next morning.  The combination of rainy weather and warm temperatures created ideal conditions for more salamanders to move into the pond.  Unfortunately, the almost two inches of rain, most of which fell in a short period during the middle of the night, caused a lot of dirty water to runoff of the township road.  I couldn’t see into the water well enough to detect any signs of new salamander activity.

Four days later, the near shore water was practically clear and new salamander egg clusters were clearly visible. 

This most recent batch of eggs is a month behind those shown earlier.  These larvae will hatch later and be smaller than their predecessors, making it highly likely that many will end up as food items for their larger relatives.

A snow storm, leading another round of subfreezing temperatures, moved in before the water cleared enough for me to see into the deeper water where the Streamside Salamander breeding structures are located. 

The pond is now iced over and snow covered.  I’ll have to wait a bit before again assessing the salamander breeding progress.  Weather forecast for the week calls for snow followed by rain and then temperatures climbing to near 60°F by Friday, so I shouldn’t have to wait long.


  1. Thank you for your pictures! Enjoying learning about the salamander eggs and reading your casual observations about warm/cold cycles. I worry for animals becoming active from early thaws and getting a chill from winter's tenuous hold.

    1. Hi, Aria. A few days ago our afternoon temperature reached 73°F. Today we will get no higher than 36°. A few days from now we will be back up into the 60's. It's been an uncommon winter.