A few months back, a rabbit had dug a nest in the front yard to have her babies. I let cutting the grass go for several weeks so as to not disturb the in-ground maternity ward, as well as to help provide a little cover for momma bunny's young ones. It was amazing watching the momma come and feed her babies and, when the time came, for the three of them to take their first steps (or first hops) out of their nest. Finally, they had all left the nest, literally, and were on their way. I did see one of the young ones several days later.
Nature doing what nature does.
Several days ago, we had the teenage son from next door, who regularly cuts the grass, finally give the front lawn a much-needed mowing. About a week-and-a-half prior to that, I had noticed the momma bunny in the yard again a few times, but saw no new holes. We have several wild animals in the area, including the usual birds and squirrels, but also chipmunks and even a groundhog (that I've nicknamed Gary the Groundhog), so seeing momma bunny again was nothing more than a pleasant surprise. Around the time the neighbor's son had cut the grass -- I forget if it was just before or just after -- I had noticed a hawk was in the area. (I first heard the screeching sound, which I initially thought was an injured bird, and then noticed the hawk high up in a tree across the street.) The hawk was in the area for a few days, until one day, I look out the front window...and there was the hawk standing in the front yard! I went to get my camera, but the hawk had flown off by the time of my return.
Several minutes later, the hawk had returned, but something was different. As I readied my camera, I noticed the hawk looking down a great deal and standing somewhat oddly, more so than I thought it should on the ground. It quickly snatched something -- it was so quick, I couldn't tell what -- and used its massive wings to whisk off airborne once again. Many more minutes had passed and there was no return by the hawk. The ground where the hawk had landed, however, looked different, altered, but somehow familiar. Familiar...like moved dirt...as though a hole had been dug. My heart sank. I went outside and looked at the area more closely. There was tufted grass and patches of fur. The fur was also familiar; it was rabbit fur. Just off to my right, a patch of displaced grass covered what was a fairly shallow hole, nothing like the one from several weeks earlier, not nearly as deep; it was not much bigger than the size of my fist. The hole was empty. My heart sank further. The hawk had come to take the baby rabbits for itself to eat.
I felt so bad, especially after trying to leave the front yard alone weeks earlier so that the rabbit babies could be safe and secure until their time to go on their way arrived. I felt good that I was able to do that. This, however, was the opposite feeling. Obviously, the momma bunny had given birth again in the front yard, and the mowing of the lawn had blown her young ones' cover. A few days later, I mentioned this in a group setting and one person even mentioned that the hawk may have fed itself or perhaps some babies of its own. The person echoed what I had thought to try and fully grasp the situation, "Nature doing what nature does."
Sometimes, as a human, it is hard to understand that phrase. Add to the fact that baby rabbits are cute, increasing the "Awwww" factor, and the understanding is even harder to find. Nature doing what nature does can seem harsh, even inhumane, to our eyes. We may try to stop it or, if unable to do so, simply watch in horror. We value life -- well, at the very least we do so cognitively -- and, granted, we value human life more so, thus we find this behavior shocking or saddening. I felt so bad for the baby rabbits, but my friend was likely correct: the hawk knew it or its offspring needed to eat, and that's all it knew. It thought on a (surprise, surprise) totally animalistic level. Hungry, get food, eat.
Humans tend to think of themselves as the protectors of...everything. It's their job; it's their duty. Sometimes, however, there are things out of our reach, or even not ours with which to tamper, that we cannot protect, correct, or fix....harsh, disturbing, saddening, upsetting, but true. If I had known the momma bunny had given birth again, I may well have told to neighbor's son to hold off again and just done some weedwhacking around the yard, but leaving the grass surrounding that hole untouched. Indeed, the hole's cover had been blown, and it was not my taking the baby rabbits out of the hole and leaving them exposed in the yard, but perhaps the hawk had not eaten in quite some time. Perhaps the hawk babies, if there are some, may have not eaten for some time, or were screeching for their first meal. Who knows for certain, but the fact remains that, as sad as that was, I needed to let it be.
I briefly thought about what animals, if they possessed the same brain capacity as humans, would think about some of our behavior! No doubt, they might see a lot of it as savage. I did not struggle over this for days on end, but I needed to remind myself that life is very dangerous for wild animals. When I drive around I see a squirrel or skunk or some other wild animal lying dead in the road, unable to get out of the way of an oncoming vehicle, I need to remind myself that such is the case with animals living in rural or suburban areas (and sometimes in cities, too). This was, as sad as it was to see, a natural unfolding of the cycle of life for wild animals. It was nature doing what nature does.