Saturday, December 24, 2011

Trusty Cottontail

Feeding birds is rewarding and throughout the woods I scatter seed for the shyer of them. At night numerous other animals come to these locations to glean what the birds left behind. With the use of remote cam recorders, I've noted an odd relationship with mice and Cottontail Rabbits. Perhaps it is nothing I discovered, but something new to me.
In the photo above, taken with black LEDs , there is the obvious rabbit with the smaller mouse in the bottom right hand corner. Although the mice will feed independentlly of the company of the rabbits, they will also feed directly beside them, showing no fear at all. They will not do this with any other woodland mammal here ,including Fox Squirrels, nor will they feed at dusk with the smallest of passerine birds. I am not sure how they know to trust the rabbits except by instinct. Can the presence of rabbits help in providing safety from predators such as owls by means of a keener early warning system?
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