Easter hares and Easter rabbits

This video is called European or Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus).

From eNature Blog in the USA:

Is The Easter Bunny A Rabbit? Or Acually A Hare?

Posted on Friday, March 27, 2015 by eNature

Spring has sprung and Easter is right around the corner. That means the Easter Bunny is on the minds of many children.

And on the minds of many adults is the age-old question…..

Is the Easter Bunny a rabbit or a hare?

As many of our readers know, hares and rabbits are cousins. The good news for all candy-lovers is that both are well equipped by nature to handle the tasks that come with being the Easter Bunny.

Rabbit vs. Hare

It’s actually the European hare, or brown hare, that holds the impressive credential of being the original Easter Bunny. At least according to a Germanic legend dating back to the 1500s. The ritual of children preparing nests and eagerly anticipating the arrival of Oster Haas (Easter hare), who delivers brightly colored eggs on Easter morning, has taken place in German-speaking countries for centuries.

In the United States the cottontail rabbit has been designated as the official deliverer of Easter treats. This is easily evidenced by the lyrics in popular holiday tunes such as “Peter Cottontail,” and the presence of that signature fluffy white behind in every commercial rendition of the Easter Rabbit imaginable.

How are the Easter Hare (brown hare) and the Easter Rabbit (cottontail rabbit) equipped for the daunting tasks associated with their profession?

Let’s take a closer look at the unique features of these members of the family Leporidae to find out.

Night Time Is the Right Time

It goes without saying that the job of the Easter Rabbit requires lots of stamina and endurance. This small mammal must accomplish the seemingly impossible task of delivering hundreds of thousands of eggs to children in a single night. Both rabbits and hares are primarily nocturnal creatures, thus able to stay alert and on-task the entire Saturday night prior. Their most productive hours are at dawn and dusk, times of heightened activity and energy for the rabbit and hare. Both species are equipped with large eyes for seeing at night, and their large ears allow them to detect territorial intrusions.

Lickety Split

The forefeet and hindfeet of rabbits and hares have strong claws and a special type of thick hair on the lower surfaces that provides better gripping. Not only does this adaptation aid with running on uneven terrain, it may also allow for the skillful carrying and maneuvering of multiple Easter baskets with minimal slippage (and broken eggs).

With their longer hind legs, European hares have a competitive edge over cottontail rabbits, able to reach a running speed of 50 miles per hour. The agile hare has the speed and skills to outrun and outwit predators. Cottontails move at a swift, but decidedly slower pace than hares, and often rely on surface depressions and burrows to conceal themselves. So far, both the hare and rabbit have managed to elude humans on every Easter Sunday to date—an incredible feat indeed.

Many Wabbits

Though it would completely debunk the theory that there is just one Easter Rabbit, it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to assume that egg-delivery is a task shared by a complex, vast network of hundreds, if not thousands of rabbits. There certainly are enough of them to cover all the territory. It’s no secret that rabbits and hares are an exceptionally fertile and active lot, often producing dozens of offspring over the course of lifetime.

Newborn hares would most quickly be able to jump on board and help with Easter tasks. Just minutes after being born, they are fully-furred and able to run around with relative ease. Alternately, newborn rabbits are ill-suited for just about any activity; they are born blind and naked, and require much coddling by their mothers before venturing out in the world.

On the Job Satisfaction

One has to wonder what the glamour and allure in being the Easter Bunny might be. One of the draws may be unlimited quantities food. While children drool over the chocolate eggs and other sweets delivered to them on Easter Sunday, rabbits and hares are no doubt enticed by their favorite edibles—grass and clover—found in many backyards. Perhaps the payoff is the pleasure of seeing the smiles on children’s faces when they discover the colorful Easter eggs that have been left for them. Or maybe it is the honor in upholding tradition, year after year.

Whatever the reward or rewards, you’ve got to commend the Easter Rabbit and the Easter Hare for hundreds of years of excellent service and on a job well done.

Learn more about the Eastern Cottontail.

More about the Desert Cottontail.

Redpolls, siskins, United States winter birds

This video is called Arcaute Artistics: Common Redpoll.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

The Redpolls are Coming! The Redpolls are Coming! (And Siskins, Too)

About every other year, cold winter winds blow flurries of two boreal birds—Pine Siskins and Common Redpolls— down from Canada to scatter about the Lower 48 states.

This winter, it’s time for another irruption.

eBird data show that Common Redpolls are reaching the Chicago area in the Midwest and moving down past New Jersey along the Atlantic Coast. Birders are reporting Pine Siskins all the way down in Florida and Texas.

Read our story on the All About Birds blog about what drives this irruption, how to identify redpolls and siskins, and how you might attract them to your backyard bird feeder.

African American history and conservation

This music video from the USA is called Marvin GayeMercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) (Lyrics).

From The Nature Conservancy in the USA:

African Americans have a rich history in conservation that can be found everywhere from Motown to national parks.

Did you know that African American Buffalo Soldiers were some of the earliest defenders of our national parks? Or that the hit Motown song “Mercy, Mercy Me” was inspired by nature?

Take the quiz below to learn about African Americans who pioneered and advocated for conservation. Then see how today’s youth are following in their footsteps as part of The Nature Conservancy’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program. Get a millenial’s perspective on African Americans and the environment from LEAF alumna Cleo Doley, who is pursuing a concentration in environmental justice at the University of Vermont.

Interested in learning even more about conservation heroes? Check out these six facts about African American leaders who made an impact for the environment and watch a video [below] about a park ranger who is inspiring the next generation of African American conservationists.

This video is called Conservation and Black History Month.