Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Bunny Mystery

One day last summer a young rabbit came out from under my pool deck and stared at me.
I was a bit surprised that it came so very close but I stood still and spoke to it in my best soft friendly voice:
“Hello Mr. Bunny, how are you? Are you curious about the human?”

This would happen nearly every time I walked into my back yard in the early morning or evening and each time the young rabbit would come to about five feet of me and stare. Now I began to think that the young rabbit was just curious about me and wondering how to get some food.

This all started with my niece quite some time ago. She started leaving “treats” out in the yard for the squirrels and was particularly fond of one that lost its tail. Well one day there was a squirrel on my back steps that didn’t run away when I was going to work. I went back inside and got some unsalted roasted peanuts for her. I named her “brave squirrel” because she wasn’t afraid of me and would be on the steps when I returned from work as well.
The mystery of why she was so brave was solved by my niece when she noticed that brave squirrel was a new mother.

Brave Squirrel on my Back Steps

Soon the other squirrels learned of the human peanut dispenser and my friends would laugh when I walked out to the back yard followed by quite a few of them.

One day, as I was filling the bird feeders and throwing peanuts, a blue jay flew to a low branch above me and began squawking. Apparently he wanted a peanut as well so I obliged him.
In short order all the neighborhood blue jays knew of the human peanut dispenser. A couple of weeks ago, one of the blue jays actually “sang” for its peanut. I had heard that they can sing but until then all they did was squawk. Now I demand that they sing and will not throw a peanut until they do.

The cardinals are very funny. They will come to a nearby branch and start chirping and singing which of course activates the human peanut dispenser. The cardinal will then swoop down next to the peanut and start singing while looking at me. When he finishes his song, he will pick up the peanut then fly away. It’s as though they are singing “thank you” before taking the peanut and flying off. I’ve found that cardinals are quite polite and respectful ;)

So I just thought that the young rabbit was interested in a treat but he didn’t seem interested in a peanut. I tried baby carrots but without success. Still the young rabbit would come out and stare at me. Last week, the young rabbit once again came out from under my pool deck.
”My goodness, you’ve grown there Mr. Bunny”
I said as I reached for my iPhone to take a quick picture of him.

As I got closer to take the picture; the young rabbit ran off but didn’t go very far. I was puzzled until I looked down by my feet and saw a tiny baby bunny. It was a little over 2-inches long and staying as still as it possibly could to avoid my attention. I leaned over and took a couple of pictures with the iPhone and then thought:
“I really need to get my Nikon!”

I ran inside my house, grabbed the camera and got to my back porch when “The Bunny Mystery” was solved. Just under the pool deck was the young rabbit sitting up with two tiny bunnies nursing. “Mr. Bunny” was actually a Momma Bunny. One of the tiny bunnies was upside-down on its back and kicking its tiny legs as it suckled.
“Ooh, if I get this shot it will make the front page of “Cute Overload” for sure!”
I thought as I stealthy stalked my photo opportunity.

To my dismay Momma Bunny saw my approach and ran about ten feet away. Not to be deterred, I continued to advance on the two baby bunnies for a close-up. I forgot that the camera was in “auto-mode” so when I pressed the shutter button to focus the award-winning shot, the built-in flash sprung open and the tiny bunnies scurried away – “NO, damn it! I want to be on Cute Overload!”

So “the Bunny Mystery” is solved. Momma Bunny’s warren must be somewhere under my pool deck. She wasn’t curious about me – she was trying to decoy me away from her babies.

I’ve started putting a bowl of rabbit treats out near the pool deck and keep my Nikon at the ready. Hopefully Momma Bunny will bring out her babies soon and I can get on the “Cute Overload” front page after all!

iPhone picture of one of the baby bunnies.

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