Red Deer River Naturalists

The Red Deer river Naturalists are a group dedicated to learning about and preserving natural history. They have regular programs with speakers and many field trips.


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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Can You Find the Rabbit in the Picture

      Three days ago a Jack rabbit had four babies in my yard under the utility trailer. They had left the trailer location and I assumed they had left the yard.

     The second day I was watering plants and one young one got watered with the tomatoes. To day when I watered tomatoes I checked the area carefully as I didn't want to give the little guy another shower. I couldn't find him so I began watering. You guessed it he was still there.

   So today I took pictures of the excellent coverage he had. It's easy to see in the pictures but with the naked eye you can rarely see them.

Just an eye

The eye is there but you have to look for it.

A little more fur showing

Okay I got more of him in this shot.
      I wrote posts on my other blog and will give you a link.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Yard Full of Chipping Sparrows

   A few days ago when I went out in my yard I could hear young Chipping Sparrows. I stopped to look for them. I tried to pinpoint where they might be so that I could have a look at them. They sounded far away. They sounded like they were over there or maybe over there. They sounded all around me. Finally I realized that there were two in my lilac hedge and they were with in arms length of me. They must have a natural call characteristic that disguises were they are.
    Surprise! Surprise!

     For the last ten days there have been a couple of  families of chipping sparrows in my yard and vegetable garden. As with most birds the young are rather noisy and aggressive in begging their parents for food.  

    So it was a rather interesting ten days in my yard.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Jack Rabbit named Son of a Bitch

     I recently posted about a Jack rabbit that leisurely groomed itself in my back yard. It was interesting to watch and I learned a few things. My back yard was quiet, safe and in the shade.

    Two days later another rabbit visited my back yard. This could have been the same animal or his brother , sister, mom, dad or any other relative. The rabbit was well behaved and grazed on my grass and quietly left.

    In another three days I found a rabbit in the back yard and he politely left. About an hour later I looked out and a rabbit was parked in my vegetable garden with bean plant hanging out of his mouth. This fellow was shooed out of the yard very quickly. I went out later and discovered that my sparse lettuce crop had been grazed fairly close to the ground. That's when the poor jack rabbit received the name of son of a bitch. 

    Jack rabbits are opportunists and when they find something that is really good they help themselves to it. My lettuce crop was probably first class pickings .

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Two Magpies Chase a Red Squirrel

     I noticed two magpies flipping around my green ash tree this morning. Then I noticed what all the flipping was about. They were chasing a squirrel.

    The magpies had a plan. They kept the squirrel in between them. The squirrel would run down the tree to find one magpie at the bottom. The squirrel quickly moved to the opposite side of the tree so the tree was between him and the magpie. As the magpie moved to go around the tree the squirrel ran up the tree until it met the magpie who was guarding the top of the tree. All of this took place in the first 3 meters of the tree. 

    I was surprised that the squirrel seemed to be wanting to leave the tree and run on the ground. Finally, the squirrel did leave the tree and I thought he would be a goner. However, the one magpie flew just behind the squirrel and didn't seem able the hit the squirrel from above. The squirrel ran under a fence and it was game over as the magpie had to fly over the fence and by that time the squirrel had disappeared. 

     I noticed one of the magpies sitting on the fence with it's mouth wide open so the squirrel gave them a good run for their money.

    I have never seen or heard about such a conflict. Magpies are usually satisfied with something much easier.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Jack Rabbit Grooming

       Last night  a  jack rabbit sat  for half an hour going through its grooming routine. It didn't hurt either that the said rabbit sat right under the computer room window.
Duane Christianson caught this fellow  taking advantage of the sprinkler.

      First, there was the standard face and whisker wash. Most people have seen this activity as the paws are licked and rubbed over the face. This activity can go on for some time with a few rests and checking the territory for danger.

     Second, the ears were washed . I had never seen this before. The head was lowered and the big back foot stepped on the ear and held it on the ground. the front paw was licked and groomed the eared. This was done at least half a dozen times but only the right ear. 

     Third, the genitalia were attended to. This area was licked and thoroughly cleaned. 

     There have been jack rabbits in many areas of Red Deer for about ten years. This year they seem to be multiplying rapidly. 
Duane Christianson caught this little guy at a few days old in early September.

    After these strenuous washes it was time for a snooze. When I next checked the rabbit was in my garden about to attack my Swiss chard. That's when I politely said ,"Would you please leave the facility."

    So I had seen the first grooming activity but the second two were firsts.

    If anybody else has seen some grooming activity let us know.