Yep, you read that right–mockers at midnight! Regardless of the temps outside or what the calendar says, I know spring has arrived when the odd mockingbird begins singing randomly all night long, and this week I had one serenading outside my bedroom window from about 10:30 p.m. until the wee hours of the morning. Mockers ain’t right, but ya gotta love ‘em, even when you’re muttering obscenities at their irritating territorial aggressiveness. For those who may not be blessed with a plethora of mockers, let me explain that they defend not only their nests but also their perceived territory very aggressively, dive-bombing people, pets, and other birds...and they tend to claim rather large territories, too!
And I had surprise visitors to Laurens Wildlife Rescue last week: two wood ducks, a male and a female showed up early one morning, hung around long enough for me to snap a few telephoto shots, and then flew away. Wood ducks are interesting critters: their name comes from the fact that their nests are often in wooded areas miles from any water source. When the ducklings hatch, they hop from the nest and follow Mama Duck for miles to reach the water source, many of them falling prey to larger animals along the way–which is why wood ducks generally lay an amazing number of eggs. They also are not above "dumping" their eggs into another wood duck’s nest, leaving some hapless female to incubate sometimes up to 24 eggs. There have actually been instances of overloaded nests being abandoned, as the female decided there were just too many eggs to worry with!
Baby season is slowly gearing up, as well: I had three young rabbits come in last week. Their mother had been hit by a car and they were not quite weaned yet. The person who brought them to me knew where their nest was in her garden, so when she saw the mother dead in the road, she retrieved the babies. They were only days away from being fully weaned and are in fact ready for release now, but the weather’s a bit inclement at the moment, so until the rain chances decrease, I’m walking on eggshells to avoid stressing out these wee ones.
Rabbits are, to borrow a phrase from the Broadway musical "Wicked," tragically beautiful. They’re gorgeous little critters who can quite literally stress out and keel over if you look at them wrong. Really, rabbits are nothing like the self-confident, wise-cracking Bugs Bunny that most of us grew up watching–if anything, they’re the polar opposite. I think their first coherent thought must be "I’M GONNA DIE!!!" which then becomes their mantra throughout their rather short and paranoid lives. About 90% of rabbits born in any given year don’t see their first birthdays.
For the record, a fully-furred rabbit who’s around 4-5 inches long is actually considered a young adult, out of the nest and on his/her own. Yes, I know they look tiny, helpless and unbearably cute, but you’re doing them no favors when you chase ‘em down and "rescue" them–all you’re doing is stressing them out to the point that they may die in your hands. Also, nature has gifted rabbits with the unique ability to break their own backs, so attempts to "rescue" one of these uninjured young adult rabbits could cause it to break its own back as it struggles to free itself from your grasp.
One final note–I’ve updated the LWR wish list, so please take a moment to check it out and see if there’s anything there you’d like to donate. Of course, monetary donations are always appreciated, too, as they help pay for formula, greens, mealworms, etc. for the animals who come through our doors. We have PayPal links on all pages of the website except this one, or you can go to the "How you can help page" for our mailing address.