Sunday, September 20, 2020

Jackrabbit Love

I've fallen in love with jackrabbits. As a youth I caught a baby jackrabbit near Smith Morehouse Reservoir in Utah, but had to let it go after a few weeks because it was so wild. Until a few months ago my only experience with jackrabbits, other than that baby rabbit, was a brief glimpse of them running away;  less often, tensed, ears raised, ready to run. 
Here was my best photo of a black-tailed jackrabbit, taken on May 9th, typically tensed and ears raised, ready to run, just before it took off again. 
Then on May 23rd I had a magical morning where a jackrabbit started to feed on a bush about 5 yards from me, seemingly oblivious to my presence and I watched it for about 20 minutes. I saw it doing behaviors I'd never seen before, saw how they were put together, and proportioned. 
Here is where I first saw it. It is much closer than it looks because I am using a small point and shoot. 

The front legs are much, much smaller than the hind legs. It looks very awkward here. 

Standing on its hind legs to reach higher for something to eat. 

Leaning on the front legs and bringing the large back legs forward. 

On June 20th I saw it again, right near where I parked. I walked slowly up to it, getting about 10 yards away, and watched it laying stretched out on the ground, completely relaxed, except for its ears still raised to attention. 
This is taken from the driver's seat of my car. I pulled up and the jackrabbit was laying in the shadow of a palo verde (off to the left out of the photo frame). 

On June 27th I saw what I thought might be the same jackrabbit, although quite a distance away. It was standing on a small clump of rocks, using the rocks to shelter from the heat. I thought it might be the same rabbit because it let me get so close to it. I finally got too close and saw it run slowly away, getting some great photos. 
Here is where I initially saw it, standing on a rock in the shade of a larger rock in mid-90's heat. Up until this warm day I'd never seen jackrabbits in rocks. This day they were all shading under or near large rocks. 

I love this photo of it loping along. 

And another, more fully stretched out.
On July 18th I saw it again, the third time I'd seen it laying in the shade of a palo verde tree. 

I've watched it scratch the ground to make a depression to lay in. The area in the shade of the palo verde is full of small depressions created by the jackrabbit. 

On August 1st I drove up and parked in my same spot and saw the jackrabbit with one of its buddies in the shade of the palo verde tree. Its buddy quickly departed, but my rabbit stayed and I got it laying down, stretched out again. 
My buddy is to the left. The jackrabbit to the right departed almost immediately when I pulled up in my car. 

My buddie's jackrabbit friend hangs out further down the dirt road in the shade of a different tree. I've seen it there several times. 

Just yesterday, on September 19th, I saw it again, laying down in the shade of the palo verde. It was with its rabbit buddy, which again quickly departed. It layed down, but not on its side with legs stretched out. It layed on its belly, back feet planted on the ground and the back legs forming two lumps raised above the rest of its body. 
Rear-end on the ground, back leg in the air. 

Now scratching its chin with its hind leg. 

Laying flat on its belly and hind legs jutting up into the air above its back. 
Then I walked some distance to the small clump of rocks I'd seen the rabbit on June 27th. I was actually thinking about that June 27th experience and wondering if that June 27th rabbit was a different rabbit, because my main rabbit buddy is always in the same spot, in the shade of the palo verde tree. I've read that jackrabbits stay in the same small area their entire lives. Then I spotted a jackrabbit at the base of the same grouping of rocks. Could it be the same rabbit I saw before? I walked up slowly, pausing every few steps to take a few pictures. I got within five yards of it, so close that it was filling my 185 to 600 mm zoom lense on the lowest setting. Then I stood and watched it. It lowered its ears, what I believe is rare for the ever vigilent jackrabbit, and eventually walked up on to a part of the rock cluster near where I'd seen it standing before. 
I don't believe I've seen the other rabbit with its ears flat like this. 

So I confirmed yesterday that I have two rabbit friends. I've loved seeing their large ears, ever vigilent eyes, out-of-whack back legs vs. front legs ratio, and long black tail that only seems to protrude out when it is running. 

1 comment:

  1. You've shown incredible patience as you've tracked your new friends, and you have some amazing pictures to show for it. I love the very last picture with the huge hind foot--so much bigger than the tiny toes on the front feet. Lots of really great photography.