[Tweeters] Magpie and cottontail tale

Kelly Cassidy lostriver at completebbs.com
Sat Sep 24 19:55:33 PDT 2005

This morning, on a stroll around the yard, I heard a Gray Partridge and 
looked through the binoculars to see a flock of partridges and Mourning 
Doves poking around at the end of the ditch.  Also at the end of the ditch 
were a magpie and a cottontail.  (I don't know which cottontail species it 

The cottontail hops at the magpie.  Magpie hopped away a few feet. 
Cottontail returns to where it was.  Magpie hops over there.  Cottontail 
chases magpie away.  Magpie hops back, grabs something, flaps a short 
distance away, and eats something.  Goes back to where the rabbit is and 
gets chased away again.  The doves and partridges ignored this little drama 
taking place in their midst.

At this point, I broke up the party with the intent of verifying that the 
magpie was raiding a bunny nest.  The birds flew and the rabbit dashed under 
the fence and over the grain silos next door.   I couldn't find the nest, 
but the dogs noticed I was looking for something and came rushing over to 
see what was up.  They found the nest easily.  The baby bunnies had hair and 
were about the size of mice, so had escaped detection by the dogs probably 
for at least a week up until then.

I've seen magpies watch dogs, as they probably watch coyotes, hoping for 
leftovers.  The situation was reversed here.  The dogs probably wouldn't 
have found the nest if the magpie hadn't tossed nest material and baby bunny 
blood around.  I've also never seen a rabbit defend a nest, even against a 

Kelly Cassidy
Pullman, WA
mailto:lostriver at completebbs.com 

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