Lately there’s been an Eastern Cottontail hanging around my neighborhood. These common rabbits like all the vegetation & the bird feeders that spill seeds around here. (But not so much the hawks.) By the way, I’ve figured out that birds, if you put out sunflower seeds still in the shell, will actually crack the shell, swallow the nut meat, & then they will lean over the edge of the feeder, & spit the shell onto the ground. Talk about bad manners! The rabbits show up early in the morning & in the early evening, but you can still see them in the day. It’s amazing how cottontails have adapted to city life. They are quite different from the eastern cottontails in the wild. They are hardly afraid of humans at all, & they eat from underneath bird feeders like they’ve been doing it forever. The rabbits probably all have nests by now, as they have kits from Feb. to Sept. The mother rabbit, also called a doe, spends very little time at her nest, instead she forages for food away from the nest to draw attention toward herself & not her young. Interestingly, it’s for the same reason that male birds are so brightly feathered & spend so much of their time away from their nest. They are so often accused of being lazy, when actually they are sitting in a nearby tree, boasting their brilliant colors to all hungry eyes, & singing their hearts out quite selflessly. This way they call attention to themselves & not their precious nest, with the female & young with their drab coats that blend in perfectly with the things around them. Rabbits work the same way. The doe comes home to feed her kits for only a short time each day; the rest of the time the brood must fend for themselves, which they do just fine. If you find rabbit kits alone, they probably are in good shape & are waiting for their mother to come home. Many people see a brood of young rabbits alone &, thinking they’ve been orphaned, take them home. This is a bad idea. If you are worried they’ve been orphaned, put some unscented dental floss around the nest and check to see if it is disturbed in 24 to 48 hours to show if the mother has been there.  If not, call a wildlife rehab center.  

3 thoughts on “Cottontails

  1. Great post, M!
    Ben and I saw a rabbit the other day around 4 in the afternoon and we were quite surprised because we only usually see them really early or after dark. Of course, we are in a new climate so we have to figure out what is different here.
    Did J ever tell you how our cat used to bring the baby bunnies in the house in the spring? They make very high-pitched screeching noises, I am sure so that mom can hear them from miles away!
    We also tried to “save” a baby and put him in a cage instead of putting him back outside ( the cat had brought him in). He passed away that night! I wonder if he had a heart attack. Thoughts on that?

    • Possible. I once tried to save a young robin I thought was injured, but he died the next day. I know that for a wild animal, being in close contact with humans can make them exteremly stressed out. So a heart attack seems likely.

  2. You have written another wonderful post today! I enjoyed reading all of the interesting facts about those sweet Cotton-tail bunnies!

    I have only seen one Cotton-tail rabbit here where I live in my front yard and that was last September. We also used to have these bunnies in Southern California in the city! Those rabbits loved to hang out in the grassy areas of hospital parking lots and hid in the bushes. But then those were the “Western” branch of the bunny brood.

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