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Wildlife Lessons-Rabbits Return


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“Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were–Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter. ”  ~Beatrix Potter

 

 

Is that not the sweetest little face you have ever seen….for me it is pure joy…and a bit of mayhem.  But I should start at the beginning.  Last summer we discovered baby rabbits in the garden.  One met his demise and the hands of our new young fox, Hunter.  The other grew up in our garden and we fondly named her Beatrix….Bea for short.

 

 

At the end of Bea’s story in late fall, she had left our garden and we thought she went to live under the garden shed next door.  My parting words to Bea were:

 

“Perhaps she will raise a family close by in spring.  Of course, we only admit well-behaved rabbits to our garden as Beatrix can attest to.”

 

Little did I know what was to happen this spring….and as my mother always told me, ‘be careful what you wish for’.  Apparently I have not mastered this wise lesson yet!

 

 

It was a chilly April dawn, cloudy and drizzling….bone chillin’ weather.  As I was looking out DSCN2186over the flooded garden, I spied a bit of activity.  There was a rabbit around the berry bed.  Now a few days before this, I had found a hole in my garlic bed….the perfect size and shape for a rabbit’s nest not yet lined.  Well that could not be allowed so I filled it in, replaced a few moved garlic bulbs, and never thought more about it.

 

 

Not until this rabbit was suspiciously hanging about.  So I decided to go out in the rain and chase it.  As I approached, the rabbit was reluctant to leave, but I was successful in chasing him.  And as I glanced over to the raised bed where he had been, I saw another rabbit laying on top of the bed.  It was a very large rabbit, the color of the leaves, hard to see in the murky gray dawn.

 

 

My first thought was how did it get inside the netting we had over this bed….netting specifically put there to protect the plants from the rabbits!  Huh, well that didn’t work….and as all this was running through my head, I never once thought about the hole in the garlic bed, or why were 2 rabbits hanging about this bed, as there was little to eat here….

 

 

DSCN2703All I could think about was shooing the rabbit out of the bed.  It finally left jumping under the netting loose on one side. Well that must be how she got in.  The rabbits ran off behind the gazebo, not far.  And as I walked over at the bed to secure the netting, I saw why they were there….a nest of newborn baby rabbits were exposed to the elements…actually called kits or kittens.  They were blind, hairless and writhing in the nest….and OH MY GOD, they were not covered and it was cold and raining.  So I quickly moved back to the house in hopes the parents would come back and cover them.  It took 5 minutes, but they returned…the male rabbit, or buck, to stand guard, and the female momma rabbit, or doe, to nurse and cover the nest.

 

 

She entered through a hole in the netting, not discernible to me until I later went over and DSCN3194felt around for it….clever rabbits.  Females will return only once or twice a day to nurse  because their milk is so rich in fat.  They come when it is dark or just about dark near dusk and dawn.  Most of the pictures here are taken at these darker times and hard to see details.

 

 

We didn’t see momma coming into the garden or even around the meadow for days.  So of course the worried godmother, me, was obsessing about these babies.  After about a week, I had to assure myself they were OK.  After all it had been in the 20s at night and barely 40 during the day with pouring rain.  I slipped out to the nest, carefully uncovered the nest (wearing gloves), and saw the furry little balls sleeping.  I gently nudged one to make sure they were alive and was reassured when one moved a little.  I quickly covered them, and worried a bit more until the end of week 2.

 

 

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I read that at around 2 weeks, the kits are supposed to come out of the nest now, and move about getting used to their surroundings and munching on plants found nearby.  I was concerned about them wandering since the nest is in a RAISED BED about 1.5 feet off the ground.  And if in their wandering they were to fall out of the bed, they would not be able to get back in….not to mention they might get tangled in the netting.  Yes we left the netting on as the rabbits chose this protected bed for a reason…birds of prey, cats, fox, etc would not be able to get to the babies.  The only predator who might get inside the bed was a snake, which we did find later caught in the netting dead, at the base of the raised bed.

 

 

DSCN3037So exactly 2 weeks after I spotted the nest, momma came just before dusk…which was good as we finally had a better view.  She took her time getting to the nest so as not to draw attention to herself.  And she stood and looked at the bed from all angles before approaching the opening in the netting.  Once she leapt inside, she quickly uncovered and nursed the kits.  We had spied 4 adorable little bunnies with little wiggly feet and ears (just under momma on the right) just like Thumper (from the Bambi movie)….look carefully below to see all four.

 

 

DSCN3050Then she left them uncovered, so they could wander about the 4′ x 4′  bed, and she left.  SHE LEFT…OH MY GOD….what is going to happen to them…should we go out and cover them.  The voice of reason (my husband) said we can’t do anything its nature, and we have to leave them alone.  So we did.

 

 

The next morning I was going to check that nest though.  And as daylight dawned, I was peeking out the window surveying the garden and the bed from afar.  Just about the same time my neighbor decided to mow his lawn right next to our fence.  As he got close to the corner, I saw something jump….OH MY GOD, it was a baby bunny.  So I raced outside and tried to find it to no avail.  I checked the nest and it was covered.  My worst fears were realized…one of the babes had fallen out of the raised bed, and thankfully found cover in the garden.

 

 

DSCN2712I mentioned it to my husband, and we decided to see if the momma came back at dusk.  Momma did come again, fed the bunnies quickly….and as she was feeding and letting them wander, I spied a little baby bunny head jumping at the side of the raised bed trying to get back in.  Of course it couldn’t…it just kept running around the bed.  The mother left rather quickly, and the baby took after her hoping to get his dinner….can we say heart breaking.

 

 

DSCN3210The next day as we were working in the garden near the beds, I saw the nest looked caved in a bit.  As I looked to the side of the bed, I spied a little baby bunny between the bed and chive plants that grow alongside it.  My husband thought it would be good to put him back in the raised bed so he grabbed his net and easily captured the little cutie pie (also pictured at the top of the post).  The baby wasn’t afraid, rather I think he was confused.  He just looked at us and laid down, and waited until we walked away.  Then he jumped out and ran away.

 

 

DSCN3212We weren’t sure what to expect the next day. So we decided to check the nest and found it empty.  Sadly the bunnies were gone.  They are not old enough to be weaned or to leave the nest, so we think momma moved them for the next several weeks where they could do their wandering and exploring without worrying about anyone falling out of the raised bed.  Fingers crossed, we hope to see them eventually running around the garden or meadow.

 

 

Oh and we do think it was Bea who brought her babes to our garden…the momma rabbit is living under the shed where Bea was, and since Bea was born in the garden we think she came back to give birth in the garden again.  And speaking of returning mothers, our crazy robin returned in April.  We awoke one morning to a familiar banging at our front windows to see the robin sitting there saying, ‘I’m back’……oh no here we go again!

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UPDATE:  We have seen a young bunny in the neighbor’s meadow living under their shed.  And we have seen the parents back in the garden checking it out.  I think they have another nest somewhere…so around the middle of July we may see baby bunnies again roaming the garden.

 

 

And the robin’s built a nest next door, but we just had the babes fledging in our garden….cute as a button.  I named this one Stanley….he was already looking for his own food and flying high into the trees.  I think he is an overachiever already.

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With this wildlife story, I am joining in the meme Wildlife Wednesday hosted by Tina@My Gardener Says that happens the first Wednesday of every month, and with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday.  I am also linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every week.

 

 

And I am sharing this lesson with Beth@PlantPostings for her wonderful Garden Lessons Learned meme.  I hope you will join her.  Please check out all these great blogs.

 

 

Also as the solstice approaches, please join me join in at my garden blog, Gardens Eye View,  for my quarterly meme, Seasonal Celebrations, where you can find all the details for linking up to this celebration of the new seasons around the world.

 

 

I leave you with another thought about my garden lesson learned this spring.  Feel free to download the photo and share.

rabbit

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-15.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

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42 Comments

  1. June 4, 2015    

    I adore Beatrix Potter and, despite it being unAustralian, I have a very soft spot for bunnies too. I don’t know how many times I read Watership Down.
    A heart-warming post, and I do hope that Bea’s babes thrive…

    • June 6, 2015    

      Glad you enjoyed Bea’s follow up story Soosie…and I am pulling for the bunnies too!

  2. June 4, 2015    

    Loved the story! I would also be on edge throughout just like you!

  3. June 4, 2015    

    What a delightful post! Those bunnies are absolutely cunning. It is no wonder Potter’s stories pull at so many heartstrings. That combination of cuddle worthiness and adorably large eyes is a perfect design to elicit a caring response.

    I don’t have bunnies to contend with but local deer have just calved and there are baby fawns parked here and there all around the neighborhood in (hopefully) safe spots to wait while their mothers graze and replenish themselves to support nursing. Those of us who actively garden will occasionally startle one enough to provoke it to bolt, leaving us wondering how and if its mother will ever find it again. Somehow, they do. Nature isn’t called “Mother” for nothing!

    • June 6, 2015    

      I agree our “Mother” is abundant this year Deb….we are writing to see the fawns but they won’t come out of the woods and wild areas for another month here.

  4. June 4, 2015    

    I love this post and the whole kit-caboodle story. They are so darned cute–parents and babies. I don’t have bunnies or deer to contend with in my garden, so it’s very easy for me to say this, but it must be fun to observe their family structure. Interestingly, I didn’t know that the buck parented at all, so that he held the position of watchman came as a bit of a surprise. I look forward to more bunny business stories through the summer. Thanks so much for participating in WW for June!

    • June 6, 2015    

      I was surprised too Tina to see both parents, but it seems he was only around when she was birthing….

  5. June 5, 2015    

    How lovely to see the rabbits again!

    • June 6, 2015    

      Thanks and glad you enjoyed their continued story!

  6. June 5, 2015    

    How absolutely adorable and entrancing, Donna. I read every word of this little story and know you will update us one day down the road, once you see the bunny family again. Mother Nature has so much to teach us and YOU are doing a great job passing the lessons on to us. THANK YOU.

    • June 6, 2015    

      Oh how sweet of you to say so Ginnie! And yes I will update all once we have more info on the bunnies!

  7. June 5, 2015    

    You are the best story teller! You had me on the edge of my seat wondering what the little sweet things were going to do next. I actually felt like I was there! Thanks for a great story!

    • June 5, 2015    

      Thanks so much Teri for such a lovely compliment. It pleases me to know you enjoyed the rabbit family story.

  8. June 5, 2015    

    Hi Donna, I so enjoyed reading about the baby rabbits in your yard. Great photos too! Thanks for sharing. I can tell you have a real heart for animals. 🙂

    • June 6, 2015    

      WE do care deeply for the critters here Beth…so glad you enjoyed the story!

  9. You had me so caught up there I feel as if I read a suspense tale this morning 🙂

    • June 6, 2015    

      Thanks Deb for your wonderful compliment….it was very suspenseful here when this happened so I am glad it came through in the story!

  10. June 6, 2015    

    I loved this post. You really are a great story-teller. Bunnies are so cute I can’t help but want to cheer them on. They must have large and frequent litters to compensate for the lack of parental care. Yipes. They really are a bit like appetizers for predators.

    • June 6, 2015    

      They do have frequent litters as they are the main meal for the fox, hawks and even herons here. But I just love them as they are too cute for words!

  11. June 6, 2015    

    Hello Donna, I enjoyed this bunny story. I hope all the babies survived and will live happily ever after.. The photos are adorable. The robin is a cutie too. Thank you so much for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

    • June 6, 2015    

      Always a pleasure Eileen….we are keeping our fingers crossed for the bunnies.

  12. June 6, 2015    

    I loved your while story. it is all going on in your garden great stuff.

    • June 6, 2015    

      Thanks Margaret…so glad you enjoyed the bunnies.

  13. June 6, 2015    

    I thoroughly enjoyed viewing these rabbit images!

  14. June 7, 2015    

    Such a cute story, Donna! It’s such a treat having wild animals around the garden, isn’t it?

    • June 7, 2015    

      I think it has even become more so than the flowers now!

  15. June 7, 2015    

    What cute bunnies you have in your garden. I just hope they didn’t do much damage. I’ve lived in my Texas home for almost four years and have never seen a rabbit in my yard. This year they showed up, and I’ve spotted a couple hanging out in my veggie beds, munching down some of my green bean plants, so while cute, they certainly aren’t my most welcomed guests. My dogs chase them off from time to time, but they still manage to do some damage. Good luck with yours!

    • June 7, 2015    

      Oh my Rebecca that is not OK for your rabbits. Luckily mine do not venture past the clover lawn which they prefer. It is an Amish technique to plant a clover field nearby for rabbits as they prefer it and they like some grass I let get long as well. Now the deer here will decimate my garden in no time so I net all the beds.

  16. June 7, 2015    

    This was one of the best posts I’ve ever read! It was like reading Peter Rabbit at times, like reading Beatrix Potter’s notes at times, and enjoying one of the sweetest garden fantasies ever! Enjoyed seeing the photos so much. The netting was so cool…I envisioned Peter catching his buttons on it! 🙂 When we have these rare encounters it is always so special. I found a baby bunny in the tall weeds where I planned to plant a garden by hitting the poor little thing with my weeding tool, and hearing it squeak. It was unharmed…and I left it a patch of weeds to keep it safe. Unfortunately it was being endangered by a crow several days later and I ran out to chase the crow away. The sweet rabbit ran straight for me (not intentionally of course) and I scooped it up and held it close to my heart. At night I would see the baby and mama hopping around my yard, but I think she finally realized she needed to move her nest (there was only the one baby when I found it, so others may have already been killed) and she and the baby left. I wished them well, and never saw any rabbits again near my yard. Oh yes, they nibble nibble in a garden, and having a nest right in a raised bed would be a problem, of course. Or even close. But the joy is enormous! Great post!

    • June 7, 2015    

      Oh Marie how lovely…I kept thinking about Peter too! The rabbits actually do little damage and the joy they bring is so much more!

  17. June 9, 2015    

    What a lovely story, I hope those little bunnies make it through 🙂

    • June 9, 2015    

      We think one is living in our garden now….keeping our fingers crossed for them!

  18. June 11, 2015    

    Oh gosh, Donna, this is wonderful. 🙂 Sorry for the delay in commenting, but I had very limited time and Internet access in Toronto. I love this story! I read it word for word. I’m not a big fan of rabbits, so I try not to get too attached to them. But your story had me on the edge of my chair. They are terribly cute! I definitely have a love/hate relationship with rabbits. 😉

    • June 11, 2015    

      I am happy you really enjoyed the story Beth. And I can understand that love/hate with rabbits….one of the babes comes in the garden frequently and he was a devil on the patio nibbling in pots recently…we chased him and I am not sure if he will be back.

  19. June 11, 2015    

    What a roller coaster post. I was hoping all would be well knowing that things happen…. I loved this true nature story and the photos…. Michelle

    • June 12, 2015    

      Thanks Michelle….It was indeed a roller coaster. I have seen one of the babies around and I think it is the little one who fell out of the nest….not sure about the others as they would have recently been weened….of course our fox has been out and about….wishing all of them well.

  20. June 12, 2015    

    Donna, what a rabbit story! I find it fascinating that you were able to watch it this close, with so many details concerning the rabbit’s behaviour. They seem smart enough to use the advantages they find and take better care of themselves.

    By the way, I really like the opening quote you’ve chosen. When our kids were a few years younger we bought a series of DVDs with Beatrix Potter’s rabbit stories and I’ve never stopped liking them. I also saw the biographical film Miss Potter featuring Renée Zellweger, it added to her stories beautifully.

    • June 12, 2015    

      I have always loved Beatrix Potter’s stories about Peter and the rest of his family of rabbits Petra, and I think it is what makes me love rabbits to this day! So glad you enjoyed our rabbits.

  21. June 27, 2015    

    As destructive as they are, I still like having a nest of baby bunnies around. It seems no matter the obstacle, the rabbits always find a way around it. Cute story.

    • June 27, 2015    

      I love them too, and with all the clover they seem to prefer there is less destruction….besides they are just too cute.

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