When the May litter of rabbits scattered, I lost track of all but two of the babies. One claimed the corner iris bed and another moved into the front yard. The mother rabbit visited both babies every day, but the one in the corner iris bed received the majority of her attention.
It also received the attention of a new rabbit in the yard. The new rabbit was smaller and sleeker than the mother, and it seemed intensely curious about the baby.
I was a bit surprised by the mother rabbit’s acceptance of the newcomer. She never exactly welcomed the smaller rabbit, but she never chased it away, either.
One evening the two grown rabbits and the lone baby hopped in and out of the irises for over an hour, as if all three were playing a strange, hesitant game of tag.
Sadly, the baby rabbit died a few days after I took these photos. I found its body beside the shed, but there were no obvious clues as to why it had died.
About a week later, the baby in the front yard disappeared. The following photo was taken the last time I saw it. (Our neighbor later told me he had found the remains of a predator’s meal in his yard.)
The longer I look at this photo, the more I wonder about those ticks. Was the rabbit ill? It had been grazing most of the morning, and returned to grazing after it woke, but still I wonder.
After the first baby died, but before the second disappeared, both of the adult rabbits turned their attention to the irises under our pear tree.
I assumed a third member of the litter had taken refuge in these irises. I didn’t want to disturb it with a close inspection, but, when the adults continued their obsession with the irises long after the second baby disappeared, curiosity won.
Another nest! They were almost big enough to leave the nest when I found them, and a day or two later they moved as a group to the other side of the iris bed.
Yesterday morning they were scattered, each into a separate hiding place. By evening they gathered again under the pear tree and waited for their mother. (I’m tempted to say “their mothers,” because both adult rabbits continue to visit the babies.) She arrived on schedule and fed them in the irises. When she left, the babies emerged one at a time. Two hopped under the deck, one retreated into the bee balm, and the fourth hid under the hydrangea.
I would love to have a way to keep up with the babies, to know if any survive to adulthood and where they settle when it’s time to raise their own young. This urge to know is familiar, and constant. It’s part of why I enjoy writing. When the story is mine, I get to know everything! But it’s a perilous wish outside of fiction, as the rabbits keep reminding me.