Wildlife Wednesday-A New Furry Arrival

 

DSCN2085

Most gardeners are nature lovers–except when “nature” gets the best of their garden!  

Deborah L. Martin

 
 
 
Isn’t she just precious.  She looks so soft I would love to give her a big snuggly hug, but I don’t think she would like that as she is a bit shy.  Her name is Beatrix, and this is her story; about how she came to live here in our garden. 
 
DSCN8284Her story starts in late May, when a lone rabbit or eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) was regularly visiting the back gardens.  Content to eat the clover, we let her be.  At the end of each visit, she (we later discovered it was a female) would  make the same trip to the right side of the gazebo, and lose herself in the giant stand of Obedient plant there.  I thought, at the time, she was just following her normal path in and out of the garden.  
 
In hindsight, I should have guessed she was a nursing mother as it was clear to me later when I looked at the appearance of her fur.  Nursing rabbits usually have uneven and matted fur as we have noticed from those who have had nests in the garden before….and you can see that same uneven fur here in this picture of her in spring.
 
Her visits continued through June, and I really didn’t think much about them.  Just always making sure she steered clear of the veg gardens on that side of the fence.
 
DSCN6728In early July we had an amazing discovery brought about by a young fox who decided to jump the fence.  As you read in his story, he ran around that same area of the garden where the rabbit would visit, and found a meal in a baby bunny he captured.  I was in complete shock that there were baby bunnies in the garden.  But given that this year I had not weeded, I was not surprised.  You see every spring, as I weed, I also look for rabbit nests.  I did chase one rabbit (pictured left) in late April, but she must have found another spot elsewhere.  Right back there in the leaf litter, weeds and Obedient plants.  We discourage the rabbits from building nests inside the fence because as it happens, they are sitting ducks or should I say rabbits.
 
 
DSCN9848
The real surprise after the fox visited was discovering that one rabbit survived.  And we saw her out and about in the garden soon after the demise of her sibling.  Of course I have no idea if she is really a she, but I like to think so.  I promptly named her Beatrix, after Beatrix Potter one of my favorite authors who wrote one of my favorite books, Peter Rabbit.
 
Bea remained very shy, and would hide whenever we were in the garden.  But we enjoyed watching her explore the garden beds and patio containers from inside the house.  She was a bit too small to do much damage, but I was still wary.
 
DSCN1086Bea continued living in the garden all summer, and took up residence in the back by the rain garden on the left side of the garden.  We suspected she found a home under the shed next door.  She still had easy access to the tall grass and clover growing in our garden.  All she had to do was just scoot under our fence to get to the goodies she loved.  
 
Clover and especially clover flowers have been a particular favorite of the rabbits in our area.  Many venture inside our fence to partake.  And we leave them alone, as long as they don’t go after anything else.  If they do, they are summarily chased many never coming back.
 
I was worried about Bea all summer as I feared our young fox would findDSCN4643 her, or perhaps she would be in danger from the young red-tailed hawk that was hunting rabbits in the area.  Yes I got to see that too~sigh.  And of course the rabbit hunting heron in fall made me cringe too.  But the last time I saw Bea was in early fall, as she was eating clover in the back near the gazebo.  She was getting bigger, and I knew she would be gone soon to make a winter home somewhere.  
 
I have seen many rabbit prints around our garden, but have not spied the rabbits.  With the snow now, we will be able to easily see if any rabbits are visiting.  I hope one of them is Bea.  It would be wonderful to know if she is still around.  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.
 
 
 
 
 
DSCN2097

 

Some Interesting Facts and Folklore About Eastern Cottontails:

  • It is said the Mohawk Indians learned to dance from rabbits
  • African folklore tells stories of the trickster rabbit
  • The Algonquins tell how the great white hare formed the earth
  • In Europe (especially Ireland, Wales and Scotland), it was believed witches would turn themselves into hares, and it was bad luck if a hare crossed your path.
  • In 19th century England, country folk would not eat rabbits as they believed their grandmothers souls had passed in to the rabbits.
  • Some cultures, like the Egyptians, Aztecs and Hindus, believed the rabbit was associated with the moon.
  • Rabbits were also associated with fertility going back to the Greek and Roman times (we can certainly see why).
 
 
 
 DSCN2071
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.  Please check them both out.
 
And next month, I will post my wildlife stories from my new blog, Living From Happiness.  I hope you will join me there.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Please join me in celebrating the new season coming soon to your part of the world.  

 

Just write a post between now and December 21st.   Leave a link with your comment on the kick-off post of Seasonal Celebrations-Winter Wonders. I will include your link in my summary post on December 22nd.  

  

I am collaborating with Beth@Plant Postings and her Lessons Learned meme at this same time.  What lessons have you learned this past season of summer here in the North and winter in the South.  Write a separate post or combine your lessons with your celebrations in one post.

 
 

______________________________________________________________________________

Next up on the blog:  

Monday I will have another Garden Book Review.  And next Thursday, on my new blog, Living From Happiness, I will have my Garden Lessons Learned post.

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her new blog just for Nature Notes.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday. 

 

 

 
 

79 comments

  1. Christina says:

    Your lovely story made me smile, thank you. How do you discourage the rabbits from feeding from your vegetable beds? If you have a solution I’m sure others would love to know. Christina

    • Donna says:

      Glad you enjoyed Bea’s story Christina. The rabbits have an entire lawn of clover in the back garden. That alone seems to satisfy them. Just in case we also net the veg gardens as the deer are not as well behaved. The clover was growing here before we developed the land and without chemicals it is hard to get rid of so we use it for the rabbits, woodchucks, etc. The Amish people here also use this technique.

      • Island Threads says:

        Donna your eastern cottontails are better behaved than Lewis rabbits, when my grass is down there is lots of clover, I encourage clover in the wild areas as it fixes nitrogen in the soil, but the rabbits here still prefer my bought plants when they visit, you are also lucky that they do not dig tunnels as ours do, your rabbits are more like the hares here, Frances

  2. Linda aka Crafty Gardener says:

    I enjoyed reading your rabbit story. We have a family that visits our garden and just this morning I saw all the rabbit tracks over the path and front garden but didn’t see the rabbit. We had a light dusting of snow overnight.

    • Donna says:

      I think she may be under one of the sheds in the area….but we also see them sometimes under bushes nibbling on twigs sporting their thick winter fur in the cold frigid nights.

  3. Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern says:

    As much as I complained about my rabbit herd (I love the quote), I missed seeing those baby bunnies this year. I believe it is because a cat took to regularly visiting my garden. I did see one rabbit, but only one at a time and not any baby bunnies. The large rabbit is not very afraid of me and is content to watch me while I work in the garden, warily of course. I happen to love clover and wouldn’t mind a lawn of clover instead of grass! I do have quite a bit of it which is why the rabbits visit I suppose. I hope the cat disappears by next year. I love Beatrix – so cute! And so well behaved. Perhaps I could gain some rabbit training expertise from you.

    • Donna says:

      Anytime Kathy…..I expect we will see Bea or her mother back to make another nest in spring. We do have to chase the cats. Now we only see one cat that roams. We used to have several.

    • Donna says:

      We have waves of rabbits, but with the hawks, rabbit-hunting heron and fox there are fewer around right now. Glad you enjoyed Bea’s story Shirley.

  4. Beth @ PlantPostings says:

    Cute story about Bea. πŸ™‚ It sounds like we have very similar wildlife visiting our gardens, which makes sense with similar climates and plant communities. I’m forgetting if you have deer visit, Donna? Deer visits are rare in our home garden, because our forest is very small. But we see them often up at the cottage. Thanks for sharing the stories of critters in your garden.

    • Donna says:

      Yes Beth we have loads of deer and they jump the fence regularly to feed in the garden. Unfortunately they do not have any predators so their group grows. Glad you enjoyed Bea’s story. I will be linking in from my new blog with another wildlife story for Lessons Learned next Thursday.

  5. Donna says:

    They are sure cute, but no friend to the garden. I like seeing them in the meadows romping to their hearts content. I hope Bea stays clear of the fox. It is nice to have one, but not many of them. One visits here, but the feral cats keep them in check.

    • Donna says:

      They stay in check here too Donna with lots of predators including cats. Not many to be found right now as the hawk, heron and fox have thinned their numbers.

  6. rusty duck says:

    I have one bunny that similarly seems happy with the lawn clover. I just hope it stays that way. But there are babies around, my misfortune was seeing one killed by a stoat a couple of months ago.

  7. Kris P says:

    I’ve heard of the damage rabbits can do to a garden but, having never experienced that problem, I can’t but have a soft spot for the sweet furry creatures. If I could get the raccoons to stick to eating fruit rather than digging in my beds, I’d probably have a soft spot for them too. I hope your bunny continues to behave and to thrive.

  8. susan troccolo says:

    Beautiful pictures of the Bunny. I see why you call her a SHE. She is delicate. We have bunnies who live next door with a couple of teenage gals and once in awhile they escape and come to visit. My Border Collie finds them very interesting! She doesn’t chase them or scare them at all fortunately. I have one question for you about putting down netting around your garden because of the deer. We’ve tried that with our berries and found young birds caught in the netting. It is almost impossible to free them, they become so terrified. What do you do? I’d love to know because it would really help me in my garden.

    • Donna says:

      Susie I have not seen any baby birds caught in our bird netting. It has small holes and we anchor it down tight as it is stretched across hoops. and the babies usually with parents perch on the hoops and cages so perhaps that has helped them not to get caught. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

  9. Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti says:

    Hi Donna
    I enjoyed reading about Beatrix–she is a beautiful rabbit and I hope she survives the winter. We see many cottontail rabbits that come and go from our backyard and most seem to like to hide under a few big pine trees in our yard. Sadly, I’ve also seen baby rabbits grabbed by fox and a red tail hawk, who also ate an entire nest of baby robins…sigh I have to keep reminding myself that nature has a food chain, but I have a soft spot of all animals and it is hard to witness that.

  10. catmint says:

    sweet story and fabulous photos of the rabbits. It’s nice to read a pleasant story about rabbits, most people I know hate them. (Including Farmer McGregor I think I recall.) Rabbits and foxes are introduced species here, and are regarded as pests.

  11. Tina says:

    Awe–Bea is so darling–maybe she’d be a little less darling if she ate things you want in your garden, but she appears to be restraining herself! Glad you have a beneficent and tolerant attitude toward her and her kin. Thanks once again for adding your lovely prose and photos to Wildlife Wednesday!!

  12. Island Threads says:

    Donna I really enjoyed Bea’s tale, it’s nice that some of your rabbits are well behaved and have such a preference for clover, I might be temping fate but I have not see any in or near my garden now for a couple of years though I still keep a look out, there are no foxes here and our rabbits dig tunnels with a central den so there are many entrances and exits, I hope Bea will enjoy sharing your garden next year too, do you know what happened to her mother? Frances

    • Donna says:

      Wow that is quite a den your rabbits have…ours do not have this. I did see her mom for most of the summer but this fall I have not. I can only guess that the predators in the area may have taken her, but I am not sure Frances.

  13. Michelle RW says:

    Oh poor dear buns at the bottom of the food chain..My late friend loved buns and educated me on them which is why I plant clover..This is a well told and beautiful story…..Michelle

  14. Eileen says:

    Hello Donna, I enjoyed reading Bea’s story.. She is a cutie.. I am glad she is a well behaved bunny eating clover and not your garden.. I hope she survives the winter and the predators. Great post, thank you for linking up your post. Have a happy weekend!

  15. Phil says:

    Hello Donna. I enjoyed your tale (pun intended) and also your photos of Bea. You certainly gave us all a thorough account of the daily trials and tribulations of having a bunny coming to stay.

  16. Margret Adamson says:

    I really enjoyed hearing about the going ons about Bea and I loved seeing the wonderful shots of her. I do hope she stays safe and warm throughout the winter and perhaps in spring she may have babies. Have a lovely weekend.

  17. DeniseinVA says:

    Wonderful post Donna. Very interesting about the folklore. We had a rabbit visit often but then we hired a gardener to help us with our grass. Little did I know that when he got rid of the clover patch the rabbit left our garden to find the next clover patch. Wish I had known. I miss that little rabbit πŸ™‚

  18. Aaron Dalton says:

    We had several rabbits in our garden this year.

    (In 2013, there was a coyote about and fewer rabbits. I sense a cause-and-effect relationship there.)

    The rabbits eat both clover and some of the garden plants, but I can’t get too upset at them. They’re just too cute.

    Rabbits did a number on the Portulaca grandiflora, the Liriope and the Japanese Painted Fern. I think the Liriope and the fern will survive. The Portulaca is an annual here in Tennessee, so it certainly won’t return, but I wish the rabbits had let it set some seeds. (I doubt they did.)

  19. Hannah says:

    Hi Donna, we also have some resident rabbits, and we have lots of grass and clover for them to eat, however a couple of years, including last year, they have really gone after my little bean plants, and also ate some of my newly planted perennials to the ground. This is in spite of having welded wire fencing all around these beds. As the fencing gets older, I guess some bigger holes develop that let them squeeze in, plus one especially troublesome rabbit was a young one that could squeeze through better. So I put plastic sheeting all the way around one bed last year, plus I used some chicken wire, and this next year I may run chicken wire all the way around my biggest bed and put all the beans in that one bed… that still leaves the perennial bed I will have to do something about. But it’s great you can still enjoy seeing them fondly, I do like rabbits since I have a pet one.

    • Donna says:

      Wow your rabbits are devils Hannah. I do have to protect my veg beds because of deer and just in case we have a rebel rabbit. Of course my worst headache is the voles that tunnel into my veg beds….we will be using chicken wire too on those too.

  20. Nadezda says:

    I enjoyed reading Bea’s story Donna!
    We have no rabbits or foxes here this winter, as I have not seen any prints on snow. I think your ‘garden rabbit’ Bea lives under your shed or made a hole somewhere this winter. Might she?
    Happy weekend!

  21. craftygreenpoet says:

    What a sweet story, I hope Beatrix visits again next year, bringing her little ones with her.

    I can well believe that the Mohawk Indians learned to dance from rabbits, rabbits (and hares) love to run around and dance,

  22. Talon says:

    Beatrix is lovely! I’m so glad she had such a beautiful garden to enjoy. I am so sorry that Mr. Fox had a bunny feast. The cycles of nature…hard to accept at times. I hope Beatrix returns to bless your garden come Spring.

    We have a wild rabbit that lives under our neighbor’s shed. So sweet and shy. Somehow she’s survived dropping into our garden throughout the summer and fall where our two cats and our Labradoodle love to explore. She’s very polite and well-mannered. I did spy some bunny tracks in the snow under one of the feeders so I’m thinking she’s found an acceptable winter den.

    Thank you for visiting my blog, Donna. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season.

  23. debsgarden says:

    I enjoyed Bea’s story very much and wish her well! We once had abundant rabbits, but then the red foxes came and thinned them out. Now I only see occasional ones. We had a bunny one summer that loved to nibble the weeds in and around our front lawn but did not bother any other plants. That bunny was very welcome!

  24. Marie-AZ says:

    Such an amazing and wonderful story! It could be a children’s book, but for the fox trauma, though I see nothing wrong with introducing children to the norms of nature. Loved reading that Beatrix is alive and well, and seeing her pictures! Beautiful!

    • Donna says:

      Marie that is a lovely idea and perhaps I will consider it….some wonderful wildlife tales would be great for children…thanks and so glad you enjoyed Bea’s story!

Leave a Reply