This weekend while mowing the lawn, C found a rabbit nest. Right smack in the middle of our backyard. The only reason he noticed it was that a teeny tiny brown cottontail shot out of the nest across the yard when the mower came close. Thankfully, the mower did not come too close and the nest was undisturbed. He scooped him up and the three of us ooohed and ahhhed over him for a few moments until we saw another one scamper out of the nest! C scooped that one up too, and then carefully nestled them back in among at least three other brothers and sisters, and abandoned the mowing.
It filled us with anxiety to think that they might be abandoned or that there was more that we should do to protect them from stray cats and the occasional hawk. But, a google search led me to a couple web sites that completely backed up our actions:
> handle them with gloves so as not to leave your scent on them (mothers may reject babies that pick up scents other than their own);
> do not relocate the nest (we debated on moving it to a less conspicuous spot, but decided not to, so that mama would be able to find it);
> nestle them back down under their nest and keep pets away.
According to what I read, rabbits are the "absent parents" of the animal world. Fathers are not involved in the care of babies at all. Mothers nurse their young 5 minutes a day, leave the nest during the day, and return at night. The baby bunnies leave the nest at quite a young age, only 2 weeks (!) and are completely independent by 3 or 4 weeks.
Please keep your fingers crossed that these little guys are doing alright and will soon be off on their own!