A couple of evenings ago I was staring through our front picture window, as I often do, watching the birds and critters, when I saw something I’d never seen before. A cottontail rabbit was lying stretched out on its stomach in a shallow depression the length of its body. It was unmoving, and though it occasionally opened its eyes, its ears were down, and I thought it must be sick or dying.
Another rabbit crouched next to the one that was stretched out. It seemed to be licking the face of the one lying down. It licked the right side of the face, then the nose-end, then the left side. Then it circled to the back, and licked the back part of the seemingly sick rabbit. I wondered if I were witnessing some kind of bunny funeral ritual. But then, something happened—a hawk or other predator must have appeared, because the rabbit that was stretched out suddenly opened its eyes, straightened its ears, and sat up. Suddenly it, the other rabbit, and one I hadn’t seen before took off running for the neighbor’s yard.
I have since done some reading, and believe that the stretched-out rabbit may have been a female, and that she was being groomed by a male interested in sex. But who knows? If anyone reading this has witnessed this behavior and knows what it means, please let us know in the comments.
This morning I looked out at the yard just as the sun was rising, and saw a pair of javelinas crossing the yard. Though they are big and rather awkward looking, it was amazing to see how delicately they walked on their relatively tiny hooves.
Despite their appearance, by the way, javelinas are not closely related to pigs, which come from the Old World. Javelinas, which originated in South America, resemble their European cousins through convergent evolution.
Finally, something else I had never previously seen: a friend and I went birding yesterday at a nearby artificial wetlands. The air was thick with the mating cries of red-winged blackbirds, which could be seen in every bush and tree. While trying to attract a mate, these beautiful males actually erect the red feather patches on their wings!