Wild snowshoe hares are frequently seen in the yard. They’re present year-round, but most visible during the spring and summer months.
We often watch them through the window as they munch on the lawn or rest under the trees.
One in particular often lays under some trees next to the driveway. It was looking especially relaxed yesterday afternoon. If we are quiet as we come up the driveway and walk into the house, it will usually just open its eyes for a moment and then go back to its rest.
Unlike most rabbits, hares don’t make underground burrows. When startled, they either freeze or leap out of sight. Blending into the landscape is made easier by their varying coat color which is white in winter and brown in summer, a change dictated by daylight hours rather than how much snow is on the ground. Consequently, a lack of snow cover in winter, or snow on the ground in late spring makes them vulnerable to predators.
Lately I’ve been looking for hare nests in the yard. Unlike rabbits, hares are born with fur and open eyes, making them more alert to their above-ground surroundings. In the past, I’ve replaced leverets (baby hares) back into their nest as they’ve jumped out after being startled by my lawnmower. Leverets are left unattended during the day, visited by their mother only at night.
I haven’t found any nests yet this year, but it’s still early in the season. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one looking…
Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2013