Thursday, October 14, 2010

Blakeman on Bunny

Eastern Cottontail from the Stokes' blog:

Ohio biologist and hawk expert John Blakeman responds to the last two postings:

Obviously, the rabbits shown in the photos are not Eastern Cottontails. The fur color and shape of the animals are all wrong for a cottontail. This or these were someone’s "release" of a domestic pet. Most unfortunate (except for the hawk).
When released into Central Park, the poor creature would be quickly dispatched by any of the resident Red-tailed Hawks, who would have quickly detected the animal’s multiple vulnerabilities. Domestic rabbits can’t run well, and have no idea how to evade avian (or other) predators, or even have any pervasive understanding that they would ever have to do this. Just simply dumb, and unfit for survival in the wild, such as it so more naturally is in Central Park these days.
And the account of a captured cottontail being taken up into a tree is problematic. First, cottontails at this time of the year are too heavy for a red-tail to carry away. Lifting one into a tree is not possible for a red-tail. Earlier in the year, a red-tail could have grabbed a young, half-grown bunny and flown away with it. But by October, there are no such youngsters left.
The hawk could have, however, lofted a portion or remnant of a full-grown rabbit it had been eating on the ground, after capture. But the photograph of the hawk in a tree with prey does not look like it’s a cottontail. The fur doesn't appear correct. The hair is too short. I could be wrong on this, as we can’t see any head, or determine the real size of the creature.
–John Blakeman

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The beginning of the bunny story

photos by Beth Lenz -- October 12, 2010

Hours, or perhaps minutes before the tragic denouement of yesterday's bunny story, someone else ran into that Eastern Cottontail. Check out Beth Bergman's blog -- link below -- and read the charming record of her bunny encounter.

Today on her blog under the headline R.I P, Beth comments:

It's sad to report that bunny has become hawk lunch. It was inevitable, - slow bunny, fast raptor, lunch. There has to be some other way to re-home a pet. Maybe the Parks Department can set up an adoption center. I swear the next time I meet a bunny in the park I'm going to try and catch it and bring it to safety.

Bunny has gone to Bunny Heaven.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stop the presses

Photographer Murray Head reports on an exciting story he witnessed [and photographed] today:

Hi Marie,

Whilst in the park today...
a French couple led me to a Red-tail they had just photographed about 50 feet West of the Summer House.

When I arrived, and seconds before he flew off I photographed him.
In his talon appears to be what I am told is an Eastern Cottontail.

He flew to another tree about a 50 yards away and shortly after he landed something dropped to the ground. I went over to see and it was indeed a rabbit that he had captured... I'd rather not be too descriptive.

I stopped two conservancy people and asked them to take away the remains. Eric told me that Central Park has not know wild rabbits for decades. (He said it could possibly be a pet that was released in the park) But it also could as well be... THE BUNNIES ARE BACK!

As for this Bunny... he is now Hawk.



PS from Marie

Actually, as I recall, there have been a few cottontail sightings in the park more recently than "decades" ago. I'll try to nail the dates. Nevertheless it is a VERY rare sighting.