A bunny under a bush isn’t an unusual sight this time of year, but one video making its way across the internet has thankfully brought the nesting habits of these peaceful creatures to the public’s attention. My husband, who mows lawns for a living, was the one who brought me up to speed on the subject.
When your husband works nights and spends his off days mowing lawns for others, your lawn is often bottom of the list. (Like the plumber with the leaky pipes adage). As a result, we have some adorable wildlife that enjoys our tall grass even if the neighbors don’t. One of the critters is Nugget, a fawn who hangs out with me quite a bit. (Another post about her to follow soon.) Mostly, we have the birds and squirrels that hang out on the deck with me, and the more cautious bunnies all over the yard. This brings me to the subject of bunny nests.
FINDING A NEST
Bunnies nest in some interesting places like gardens, but usually they nest under shrubs like the bunny in the photo above. She’s just sitting there, right? Maybe. Maybe not. She could be nursing a nest of tiny babies just below her. Nursing looks like casually sitting around to the average observer- human, or predator. Once she left, I was able to take a picture of what was underneath her:
Since she is in this spot a few times a day, it’s safe to assume the patch of dead grass is a nest. Not wanting to stress out babies or mama bunny, I didn’t disturb it to get pictures. I just left some leaves of romaine from the garden for her to snack on when she gets back. She seems to like that. I’ve left some for a few days and it’s always gone later.
Another place bunnies are known to nest is right out in the middle of the yard. Why? Because predators don’t like to be out in the open. Therefore, sometimes the best place to hide is in plain sight. If you notice a patch of dead grass that seems packed down, chances are it’s a nest. We all get dead patches of grass once in a while, but these nests seems to appear for no reason in taller healthy grass and are usually thatched looking. Like this:
WHAT TO DO ONCE YOU IDENTIFY A NEST
After some research, here’s what information I can pass on.
– Don’t disturb the nest.
Yes, baby bunnies are cute and we all want to look at them, but this can cause stress that their little selves don’t need.
– Protect it from pets and curious kiddos.
This is a biggie! If your pet finds the nest and disturbs it, they can easily harm the babies. Some pets like to bring their owners ‘gifts’ when they find things like baby bunnies and this can be bad news for the babies. To prevent this, you can put up a barrier around the nest to keep pets out, but make sure mama can still get inside to feed the babies. Even a bucket over it with a hole cut for mama is better than nothing.
– Protect it from mowers.
Another biggie! To prevent mowing over it, put a marker flag in the ground or something else that will remind you or your lawn people not to mow over that spot. Give a good six-foot radius around the nest with the mower. You can use the weedeater to get the grass close to the nest.
HAS MAMA BUNNY ABANDONED THE NEST?
Chances are you won’t see mama around the nest much if at all. She doesn’t want to draw predators’ attention to it. To see if she is indeed coming to feed the babies when you aren’t looking, you can place a few twigs over the nest like this:
If they have moved, then she has come back to feed them. If they haven’t moved by the next day, you can gently lift the packed grass from the edge and check on the babies. If they are there and alive, call your local wildlife rescue service. Some will have a rehab and foster program for the little things so they can be released when they are old enough.
There are many helpful sites that can give more info on what to do when you find a bunny nest. Do some research and make sure you take the steps needed to make our outdoors a place where nature can do what nature does best. We are all sharing this world, after all.
To see the video from Ontario Wildlife Removal that started it all, click here.
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