Monday, July 28, 2014

Cottontail Ninja

Scattered gray clouds thudded along the ground, gently pushed by an early morning breeze. Vegetation, burdened with a heavy dew, rolled droplets off the tips of droopy leaves.  Fiery brush strokes of vivid colors streaked amongst the breaking clouds and the morning silence was cherished. Sounds were muffled by the heavy air as my peace and serenity were instantly interrupted with a shrill screaming that raised the hairs on the back of my neck.

I sprinted towards the baby-like sound, somewhat fearing what carnage my eyes were going to reveal. Blitzing around an old shed, the sound was close and my eyes scoured the area for the source, but it instantly fell quiet. Flashes of movement through some brush caught my eye and I maneuvered closer. The high-pitched screaming began again, in concert with more sudden movements, and I was stunned with my revelation.

A cottontail rabbit was charging and acrobatically jumping and contorting its body in the air, complete with kicking legs like a long-eared ninja, all the while shrieking the ear-piercing screams.

A magpie, an above average sized black and white scavenger bird, was bouncing along the ground. With wings outstretched, it was doing its own version of aerial cartwheels as avoidance techniques against the rampaging rabbit. Suddenly, while pin-wheeling in the air, an object dropped from the magpie's beak as it surrendered to the relentless rabbit. The magpie flew away and I approached the object it had dropped as the angry bunny retreated from my presence.

Motionless, a baby bunny, technically named a kit, passively nestled beside a despised plastic water bottle that littered the ground.  The miniature fuzz ball could have fit inside a large chicken egg.

The rancorous magpie squawked safely from an overhead power line as mother rabbit eyeballed me through the tall wild grass.

Minutes ticked by. The delicate little bunny was a motionless rock as its fretting momma, just out of reach, bounced around while opportunist Magpie cocked and tilted its head, watching from the wire.

Knowing if I left, magpie would rain down deadly blows to the vulnerable bunny, I chucked rocks to make the marauder fly away.  Not wanting to leave a hint of smelly human scent for momma rabbit's sensitive nose to detect, and then abandon the baby bunny, I carefully pinched the little kit between 2 sticks. Like over-sized chopsticks, I grasped the furry nugget and released it in dense vegetation.

Neither momma rabbit nor magpie was seen near the point of release, and I later returned to see the baby bunny had moved to safer grounds.

I readily accept nature and recognize the circle of life involves predators and prey, but this incident of a classic bully picking on the ultimately defenseless prey spurned me into action.  Vehicles provide a smorgasbord of roadkill to chew on or other food items could fill magpie's stomach instead of taking advantage of a young animal trying to reach adulthood in a difficult world. 
I was happy to help out. 

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