Friday, January 30, 2009

Feral lagomorphs of Minoru, and a raptor.

That fantastical sci-fi title could also be, "Abandoned bunnies of Richmond, plus a hawk." In this city, no doubt in many cities, the question is not "Will people abandon pet rabbits?" but "Where will they abandon them?" The drop-spots move around as authorities clamp down on populations getting out of hand. It seems a current favourite rabbit-release site (as if you are giving them freedom) is Minoru Park in central Richmond, famous for its sports facilities, chapel, gardens and duck ponds.

These domestic dwarfs have probably had a difficult time with this winter's cold weather. Meant as pets, they've had their protective outer coat bred away. People bring salad leftovers to feed them; they are community pets of convenience. At Minoru Park, other hazards rabbits may face include dogs, owls and Red-tailed Hawks.

There's another introduced mammal too, the Eastern Grey Squirrel, which is predisposed to living among the large trees. Notice the nice, thick winter coat, the result of having evolved in eastern North America. Cold? What cold? Not a pet by any means. Pest, perhaps.

The smaller hawks that typically do well in city parks show up here, with the ample food supply: occasionally the mammals above, but more frequently the abundant bird-life (e.g., introduced pigeons and starlings) drawn to wherever people feed birds. It's a strange, mangled ecology, and Cooper's Hawks make the most of it.

This bird was flapping back and forth between trees, calling, "Kek-kek-kek-kek-kek!" like a crazed woodpecker. He had attitude; the usual crow escort was giving him space.

Cooper's Hawk. The long white feathers that cover the upper leg joints are flared out to the sides. Sometimes, if the bird is twisting in flight, these can create the illusion of a white rump patch.

Eventually, as if realizing his behaviour was not appreciated, the hawk flew away, over the sports fields.

The squirrel went up a tree, to eat, to snooze?

We went home, out of the cold.

The rabbits returned to snuffling amid the snowbanks, searching for carrot peelings and iceberg scraps.


KaHolly said...

Feel kind of sorry for the rabbits. Did you bring the rabbits a little salad to snack on? Nice photos.

swamp4me said...

It yanks my chain when people "liberate" pets. I once found a hermit crab, complete with sparkling painted shell, crawling across the parking lot at the park.

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

Poor bunny. They need a warm hutch and hay. It is incredible how delicate they are.

BerryBird said...

I bet the Interpreter had frequent run-ins with abandoned pets. When I was a kid, my folks worked at a nature center, and we aquired countless pets that people had dumped there.