As I mentioned last week, about a half hour after dark I was stepping into my backyard when a giant bird of prey swooped down and just about caught my son's sprinting white bunny, who lives out back. I want to thank everybody who offered advice on what to do about it.
One reader pointed out that I might have been arrested on federal environmental charges for throwing lemons at the huge predator to scare it off when it returned for a second attack.
Many others suggested blasting the bird with a shotgun, which is excellent advice assuming I owned a shotgun, could aim it accurately, had a non-tiny backyard, and wouldn't soon afterwards have LAPD helicopters circling overhead, shining spotlights on me and announcing in the Voice of Doom from Above: "Put down the weapon, sir."
I thought about stringing fishing line over the backyard to snag the brute as it dives, but then I started to wonder what exactly I would then do with an extremely angry three foot tall raptor with a broken wing hopping around my backyard.
Falconry guru Steven Bodio and birdwatcher and statistics maven Audacious Epigone both suggested it was probably not a hawk, as I initially assumed, but a Great Horned Owl, in which case the rabbit is toast, since GOH's are smart and determined.
On further reflection, however, I now think it wasn't a hawk or an owl, but a golden eagle. A few days afterwards, I saw a huge golden-brown bird circling over the freeway (rodents live in the landscaping alongside LA freeways). Perhaps he was commuting back to his home in the hills after sunset and caught a glimpse of the white rabbit below. This would probably be good news compared to it being a GOH because golden eagles are rare this far south and no doubt have huge territories.
Then I started wondering whether this kind of thing might not happen all the time to Fred the Rabbit. It was purely a fluke that I saw it this time. Maybe he narrowly escapes a bloody death once a week.
You sure can't tell from the rabbit's demeanor. What I admire about Fred is that, unlike the teenagers in my house, he never sulks. If an eagle almost got your cat, his dignity would be offended for a week. If a mountain lion almost ate your horse, he'd be skittish for a month. But rabbits don't worry about the past. They don't take offense for long. If you pick Fred up and carry him outside, he might fight you desperately all the way, but within one to two seconds of being put down, he'll be contentedly munching on some greens.
So, all we've done to protect the rabbit so far is strew even more junk around the backyard than was already out there, so that he's never more than 6-8 feet from a chair or something else to sprint under. Give Fred a chance to turn around and face the bird so he could slash at him with his powerful back paws, and he'd stand a fighting chance. W