Looking out of my Â office window, I saw a fox patrolling along the other side of my yard from the cemetery this morning. It was big and healthy looking with a thick coat. It stopped to check out the hole in the fence that the rabbits use and then continued up the line. That’s probably a great hunting technique. When it surprises a rabbit close to the fence it can pin it against the fence and shorten the chase. Kind of like fast food for foxes. A few years ago my garden was being devastated by bunnies, they mowed down my flowers almost as fast as they came up. I would get up in the morning on weekends and see a half dozen of the furry eating machines in my backyard. Then the foxes moved in. I haven’t seen a rabbit in the yard for several days now. I love foxes.
We also have a pair of great horned owls nesting in the neighborhood. That’s not hurting the cause either. Every once in awhile I come across a pile of fur or feathers in the yard and it makes me smile. I wonder how the varmint population control mechanism works. Some of the little bastards must survive to breed, or the killers would move on, not enough food. Maybe there really hasn’t been that much of a population decrease. Maybe the survivors are just a more cautious brand of bunny. I have noticed that when I do see a rabbit, they seem to be quick to move between areas of cover, rarely do I see them basking in the middle of the yard anymore.
Come to think of it there hasn’t been as many house sparrows around for awhile either. That’s probably the work of the cooper’s hawk that lives in the area. Although we have a flock of goldfinches that can empty a thistle sock in about 24 hours. But maybe they’re just more cautious. Cooper is a crafty predator. I’ve seen him fly low across the neighbors yard, hidden by the lilac bushes and swoop into our yard, which has several bird feeders, for a surprise attack. It’s fun to watch, one second the yard is full of noisy birds flitting around the feeders and suddenly they scatter in every direction. Some dive for shelter in the wild grape that covers the fence, and the hawk will follow them right in, flapping it’s wings and thrashing around in the vine looking for lunch.
It’s like I live in a cafeteria for predators.