Monday, April 09, 2007

Eastern Cottontails in Love

They were here again this morning--at least I think it was them. But they weren't dancing like they did back in March...

Now for the stare portion of our program

According to Banfield (The Mammals of Canada), via the Fletcher Wildlife Garden website:
Eastern cottontails breed in late February to early March and continue until September. Courtship is said to be quite energetic. Banfield (1974) describes it as an "interesting mating dance" in which "the buck chases the doe in a lively pursuit around the meadow. Eventually she turns and faces the buck and spars at him with her front paws. As they crouch facing each other, a few inches apart, one of the pair suddenly leaps about two feet in the air and the other runs nimbly underneath it." This usually occurs after dark and may be accompanied by squeals and grunts.
For about ten days in March these two rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus) met in the backyard every morning to do their crazy dance. A photo doesn't do it justice--this is the "staring" portion. The rabbit on the left is the male, as per Banfield. Another rabbit--larger and with a broader, redder forehead came by sometimes too, but I never saw it interact with either of these two.

Of course indentifying individual cottontails is a pretty speculative business. Their coats vary enormously, I've learned from having the opportunity this year to see some together, but they also vary seasonally, and I have no idea how many are as grey as the fellow above, or as brown as the gal--so perhaps I saw ten courting pairs, not one on ten occasions. In any case, it's been fun to have them around, putting on a show we can watch through the back window.


Dr.B said...

Hi Pamala,
Enjoyed your post on the mating of the cottentails. Having spent many years on a ranch/farm in Montana I have witnessed the breeding practices of most domestic animals. I'll share a couple of the best in a future reply.
The thing I wold like to tell this time as a follow up to your blogg, was one morning I was looking out our kithchen/dinning room window when a Male Quail flew down to the ground from a tree in our back yord. It fluffed its feathers, gooming it's self,then began looking for food. A female Quail flew down close by, fluffed her feathers and chrouched down ner by and the male climbed aboard. Her tail went up, his tail went down and in just a few seconds of vibrating like girations it was over. She fluffed her feathers again and went about looking for food. Just another moment or two another female flew down and the same mating evnt took place. This happend the same way for at least a half dosen females or more. After all the mating had taken place the covey of quail moved on for the days events. Of biological interest is that in the spring when the female is nesting.She must be bread each day so each egg is furtile, otherwise she will be very dissapointd with the out come of her nesting. Knowing males he is vey happy to oblige her. Dr.B

Dr.B said...

It's me again. I see I mis-spelled your name, Sorry.
In re reading the post there are other words mis-spelled also.
Never was much of a speller, and didn't see a spell check. Geo.