What You Can See on April 12
Submitted by Ted Williams on Wed, 04/12/2006 - 06:38.
From Audubon’s Earth Almanac by Ted Williams and compiled in “Wild Moments,” edited by Connie Isbell, Illustrations by John Burgoyne, Storey Publishing, 174 pages. Bunny Hop In spring, as at any other time of year save fall in the North, an eastern cottontail rabbit’s fancy turns to sex. But now, when succulent new growth lures eastern cottontail rabbits onto close-cropped grass most anywhere east of the Rockies, you have the best chance of witnessing their courtship dance. As fireflies wink and caroling thrushes usher in the twilight, take a seat 100 feet from where you have recently seen “bunny buttons,” the cottontail’s round, sometimes wrinkled droppings. (Those produced by deer are elongated and smooth). There is no predicting what the dancers will do. Sometimes they will race over the grass, inscribing loops and circles and leaping high into the air. Or they may bound over each other in wild games of leapfrog, kicking at the sky. Suddenly, they will dash into cover and just as suddenly burst forth again. A female may rise up on her hind legs and punch the smaller male with her forefeet as he races by, or she may jump into the air and spray him with urine as he passes underneath. Ground-foraging birds such as flickers and robins are remarkably tolerant of these antics, merely fluttering several feet into the air to avoid getting run over, then settling back to work.