Snow Bunny!

An eastern cottontail munches on woody stems in Tower Grove Park. 

Last Thursday, under a prediction of a significant snowstorm on Friday, my friend Danny McClendon and I conspired to head out on Saturday morning to find and photograph a cottontail in the snow. The plan was for Danny to hike around in the snow and jump a rabbit or two while I stayed close with my 500 mm lens at the ready. By Friday evening, our plan was falling apart as we had already received 10″ of snow with more to come overnight! By Saturday morning we knew the rabbits would be holding tight in their burrows in the foot-deep blanket of snow so we both stayed close to home and off the snarled roadways.

By Sunday night, the storm had mostly subsided and I was getting cabin feverish so I called Danny to say, “The heck with rabbits,” and asked him if he wanted to meet me in Eureka for a trip to some St. Louis parks in search of raptors for a story I’m working on for “Missouri Conservationist” magazine. The working title for the story, “Raptors About Town,” will be about some of the raptors I have observed and photographed in the city. Danny said, “Sure, I’m in,” and we headed to our first stop, Tower Grove Park at sunrise Monday morning.

We entered the park at dawn under cloudy skies and soon found a huge pack of squirrels in the deep snow under an oak tree, digging away for acorns. I unloaded my gear for an image that might be useful later as an example of the abundance of prey in St. Louis parks for hawks and owls.

After we left the squirrels and headed west through the park, Danny said, “Hey is that a rabbit?” My immediate response was, “Probably a big squirrel,” but after a second look we both realized that Danny’s original observation was correct. Yep, there sat a little cottontail in the snow, feeding on woody stems as fast as it could break them loose from a shrub. As you can see from the featured image, food availability was somewhat lacking for the little fella.

An eastern cottontail in the open snow for a moment before it scurried back to cover.

After discussing irony of a cottontail making appearance at the beginning of our back-up plan for raptors, we began searching for decent angles as the critter moved from shrub to shrub, searching for food. A few times I was lucky enough to snag some open snow images, such as the one above, but most of the time the cottontail was close to cover.

The tiny young-of-year cottontail didn’t hesitate to get up on its hind legs during its search for breakfast twigs.

Most of the time the little fella was close to cover, as expected in a park that is home to an abundance of hawks and owls. 

After about 30 minutes of watching the cottontail in the snow, Danny and I moved on across the park in search of red-tailed hawks, great-horned owls and other birds of prey. We saw a few hawks but none close enough for a good image. After seeing the little snow bunny I didn’t even care!

Later, Danny and I celebrated our find, actually his find, with breakfast at Courtesy Diner on Hampton. After warming up and filling our bellies we spent the rest of the morning in beautiful Forest Park. I’ll share a few images from that visit, and a few more from Tower Grove Park, in the next edition. I might even throw in a cute little squirrel from Lafayette Park, as well.

Happy Naturing!

DB

Email:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

Gallery of Images:  https://dannybrown.smugmug.com

America is beautiful. I vote to keep it that way.

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