Friday, July 11, 2008

Those Wascally Wabbits

...or those cute little bunnies, as I'm more apt to say.

I normally don't take pictures of critters with my digital camera--the autofocus feature makes it respond much too slowly for anything that's not inclined to sit still for me. But sometimes I get lucky, as the picture to the right proves.

I must confess to my sins, however. I do actually attract critters like bunnies to our area, partly because it makes me feel good and mostly because I try to take pictures of them to use in paintings. What is my sin, you may ask? I have containers of water for them, and I put out rabbit pellets for the bunnies and chicken scratch for the Gambels quail (actually, bunnies like the scratch, too!) More on the quail later.

Living in a desert region where habitat is sadly disappearing, I feel like I'm giving the critters a helping hand. On the other hand, I'm concerned I may be enabling them to reproduce beyond the region's ability to support them without help. Feeding wild mammals can be an especially bad idea, particularly when the mammals can produce LOTS of offspring.

Of course, we're indirectly feeding the predators, too, since we're supporting the prey. But the predators had a hard time catching the prey around here due to all the wickedly-thorny cholla cactus that grows around here. Still, we have witnessed "wildlife moments" when we happen to look out a window just in time to see a hawk catch and eat a dove or we see a roadrunner with a lizard or quail chick in its beak.

BTW: those roadrunner cartoons where coyote tries to lure the bird with a pile of birdseed while coyote attempts to drop a boulder or dynamite or something equally lethal on the poor roadrunner? IT AIN'T LIKE THAT!! Roadrunners are carnivorous, not seed-ivorous! And since they don't have talons or hooked beaks like hawks and eagles, they have to tear up the meat by whipping their prey against rocks. That's really hard to watch when their prey is a cute "fuzzball" quail chick, but it's all part of how nature works.

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