Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cottontail Activity

The clearing I do results in a lot of brush piles that are used as cover by various types of wildlife. Snowy conditions are perfect for assessing the popularity if the various piles. This particular pile is being used by Eastern Cottontail rabbits.

The area around the brush pile is covered with rabbit sign. Tracks, scat and cuttings are everywhere around the pile. It makes me wonder how many rabbits might be using this one brush pile.

The rabbits have been feeding on Fragrant Sumac that has formed a thick stand on one side of the brush pile. Fragrant Sumac is known for the strong aroma it imparts when the stems are damaged. It certainly doesn’t smell like something that should be eaten.

This stem is showing drops of sap around the typical angled cut made by the rabbit. A little pruning doesn’t hurt these shrubs at all. Cutting seems to make them regrow with even more vigor.

The brush pile was also surrounded by the tracks of a dog or coyote. I haven’t heard the coyotes for over a month, so these may be dog tracks.

After the canine circled the pile, checking access routes used by the rabbits, it climbed up on top to see if it could access rabbits from there. This brush pile had a few large cedar trunks used in its base and the rest of the material was small and packed as tight as I could get it. There’s no way anything could ever dig through that mass of branches.

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