Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Blogging — Rick Moran @ 10:33 am

We first noticed the rabbit family directly under our living room picture window about 3 weeks ago. The mother had found a natural depression behind our evergreen bushes and created a nice little hooch for her 4 babies. We naturally named the mother Ronnie and the babies Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter.

Ronnie had her hands full. The babies emerged from the warren full of piss and vinegar and it was all she could handle to keep the them within a few yards of the hole. She’s a good mother, as rabbits go, I guess, and seemed patient and affectionate in her own way. As all mammalian youngsters, the babies spent most of the day feeding and sleeping with manic periods of activity, usually around dusk.

Now, Streator is not an urban area and the Vermillion River is just a few hundred yards from our front door. What with a plague of woodchucks, mice, voles, moles, gophers, and chipmunks - not to mention baby rabbits - predatory birds stalk my neighborhood like serial killers. The hawk is the most visible, spending his day circling far above and then diving like a Stuka out of the sky to catch some unwary critter. He occasionally alights atop a telephone pole to eat his meal in a leisurely fashion.

The Barn Owls are mostly heard, not seen. We think one lives in the 30 foot evergreen in our front yard. We know he’s out there at night when all three of our cats are crowding around the living room window staring intently at the tree and sniffing furiously. We hear one sometimes, a gentle and barely discernible whooooo coming from somewhere above. We hope he targets the gophers who are making our backyard into an obstacle course of holes.

But the prize predators of the block are the 4 or 5 cats that stalk the land, terrorizing small mammals and pouncing on the careless birds who tarry too long at the neighborhood bird baths. They may be strays or pets that an owner will allow to roam if they caterwaul loud enough so that they are let out to exercise their dormant instincts.

Whether it was a raptor-like bird or a feline assassin, we’ll never know but the other day, we noted with sadness that two of Ronnie’s babies were no longer among the living. Whether they strayed beyond the bushes into the open where sharp eyed and keen eared monsters greeted them, or perhaps the owl discovered the hiding place (owls have incredible ears, able to pinpoint a location from the rustle of a leaf many yards away). Twice since we moved to Streator, we’ve been startled at night when something banged into our picture window. It might have been a bat, but we’re thinking it was the owl swooping down for a meal of bunny rabbit.

Ronnie has now moved her two remaining charges to safer climes. Sue thinks she saw Ronnie back near the wood pile, but no sign of the babies. Meanwhile, our hawk has been joined by a mate, the two of them circling effortlessly above the neighborhood waiting for their quarry to get careless and end up on their varied menu.

It’s nice to forget about politics every once and a while and immerse yourself in the natural rhythms of the planet - living, dying, breeding, and feeding. It’s a cycle of life that is endlessly fascinating despite its elegant simplicity.

The male rabbit - we’ve dubbed him Robert - is hanging around again. No doubt he and Ronnie will sit down to a romantic dinner quite soon and after a suitable courtship, will consummate their relationship and the whole cycle will repeat itself.

Nature is, by itself, the Greatest Show on Earth.

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