Sunday, May 24, 2020

Black-Tailed Jackrabbit

Even though I just did a short post on the black-tailed jackrabbit earlier this month (here), because I got a pretty good photo of one, I'm doing another because of an amazing experience I had yesterday. 

I got to the Hayfield Road area about 6:00 a.m., parked the car, and walked over to a palo verde tree about ten yards from the car to look at the beans that were hanging from the tree. I was wearing a yellow shirt which may have contributed to a hummingbird buzzing my head. As it did so I turned my head to the right and was shocked to see a black-tailed jackrabbit about five yards from me eating parts of a bush. 
This is my first view of the jackrabbit. It appears much further away from me than it really was. 
Here it is feeding on the first bush I saw it in front of. 
Then it made kind of an awkward move toward me. It was so fascinating to see it maneuver with its two small front legs and massive back legs, in some respects resembling a kangaroo. 
Then it approached me closer, within a yard or two, and I wasn't sure if it would come up to me or not. Note the early morning light reflecting in its big ears. It veered to its left to avoid me then backed up into the dirt road I'd driven in on. 
This was my seventh straight week there and I've seen at least one jackrabbit each visit, and sometimes four or five. I typically see them as they take off 50 yards away and lose sight of them a second or two later. This rabbit, however, continued to browse, then walked within a couple of yards of me. 
In the dirt road the reflection off its ears was pronounced. Note how the back leg is folded and rested on the ground. Also note how long the tail is. I did not realize it was so large. 

It this point I thought the rabbit might be leaving me as it walked toward the opposite side of the dirt road. However, it turned around and walked by my car and started to feed on a bush on the other side of me, less than five yards away. 
Standing on its hind legs and feeding on a bush. 
Here is another kind of awkward looking move, right next to my car, as you see how much bigger that back leg is compared to the front leg. 
I pulled out my small point and shoot and took lots of photos. Then it disappeared on the other side of my car. So I took out my cell phone, hoping I would be able to see it again. I did, and watched it for another five minutes of so, getting great close-up shots with my cell phone.  
This is on the other side of my car with my cell phone. Here it is walking on its foot pads and looks awkward walking along. Note again, the large tail. 
This is my favorite photo, standing on its hind legs, front legs in the air, feeding on some sort of dry bush. 
The back legs rest kangaroo style. The ears are ginormous. 
The entire time, probably ten minutes or more, it showed no fear of me and made no effort to run away. It was an amazing nature experience. I joked in one prior post on the jackrabbit that the view of the tail as they run away is my most common photo of them.

I saw it sample four or five different types of vegetation while I watched, including dry chia. It stood on its hind legs several times to reach higher plants to nibble. 

It also moved in ways that appeared very awkward. I noted that it laid part of its hind legs flat on the ground at times, so that the back was not higher than the front.Then at other times it walked on its back paws which pushed its rear-end into the air and its head at the down-hill sloping end of its body. 
When they are born they are fully furred, have their eyes open and are mobile within minutes. The mother does not stay with her young or protect them, other than to nurse, which appears to occur for about eight weeks. Males are sexually mature at seven months and females usually breed in the spring of their second year, although they have been known to breed in their first year if they were born early in the year. My guess is that this was a young jackrabbit and did not know enough to be afraid of me. 

1 comment:

  1. Spectacular photos. When I think of a rabbit, it's always of the bunny rabbit. Jackrabbits look like a caricature of the more familiar bunnies.