I worked from home today to handle transportation for Laura's doctor visit. So, I was sitting upstairs in my office, working away, when I heard Laura downstairs yelling at Cricket, "What are you digging at? Get in here!"
Then she called me to come downstairs.
We have a sliding glass door that goes out to the backyard. Just next to this is a small picnic table. "Look at where she was digging," Laura said.
There was a shallow hole in the ground under the table. I had actually noticed a while back and filled it in, but apparently...something...had dug it back up. And there was something moving around in there...small, gray, mostly buried under the dead grass and gray fur.
I used a stick to move aside the grass and discovered a nest of small mammals that we assume to be...BUNNIES!
(They're hard to see in the small version - click the picture for the full size one).
They looked way too big to be baby mice or rats. Laura called animal control and described the nest, and they confirmed that they are likely rabbits. They also noted that bunnies like to make their nests in "the dumbest places." I can't argue with that. You would think that a rabbit would notice the scent of dogs in the backyard and would realize that building a nest so close to potential predators is a bad idea. Under the bushes in the front yard would have been a better place.
I can't figure out when Mama Rabbit showed up and gave birth, though. I just mowed the lawn on Sunday morning, so it seems likely that I would have noticed them then. Last night I sent Cricket out into the backyard and she just stood around, very near the table, and never noticed anything. Perhaps they were born last night.
We have seen rabbits in the neighborhood, but I've never noticed one in my backyard before. Incidentally, we have a six-foot high wooden fence. There are a few small gaps by the gate, but they are too small for anything large to get through. Apparently pregnant rabbits can squeeze through a very small opening!
I couldn't really tell how many there are in the nest -- once we confirmed that they were NOT mice, I didn't want to disturb them any further. According to animal control, they should start moving around in a couple weeks and then they will leave. In the meantime, Cricket won't be spending much time in the backyard!
Here's another shot...the front one definitely has a bunny shape to it.