Prairie dogs, rabbits and crows, oh my!
Mar 26, 2008 | 329 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“I can’t wait until my friends come out of the ground,” my daughter mused as she stared out the window at passing fields on our way home.

Being Easter week, at first I thought she was referring to the resurrection; then I realized, at age 17, she doesn’t have any friends in the ground, so I asked, “What friends?”

“The prairie dogs,” she said, matter-of-factly.

“Oh, I see.”

Prairie dogs are so cute to look at and fun to watch and I remember we did have a plethora of them last year.

In fact, our son told us that one summer day, as he was driving past Canyonlands Youth Home, he glanced to the side of the road and thought he was witnessing an earthquake.

Then he realized the movement was not the ground, but dozens of ground colored prairie dogs, running for their holes as he approached. Another “Oh, I see” moments.

Still, the prairie dogs did not outnumber the cottontail rabbits. Again, last summer a friend commented that he had never seen so many cottontails, that it must be the year of the rabbit.

So far this spring I haven’t seen any prairie dogs (my daughter’s friends), or an astonishing amount of cottontails, but I have been impressed by the number of crows.

All these years I have been envious of northern Utah’s seagulls, but now we have a sufficient number of crows to impress anyone.

There has been more than one time when I’ve been in the parking lot at the store and heard a plane go overhead. When I look up to see it, I see instead a crow flying across the sky. It is always an entertaining performance; another amusing “Oh, I see” moment.

Just as our friend thought last year was the year of the rabbit, my husband commented that this must be the year of the crow.

“Yes,” I agreed. “Even when I went to Monticello the other day, I had to maneuver the car around a large flock of them. They had congregated in the middle of the road, and they didn’t take flight as I drove up. They were quite cocky, actually. Kind of reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.”

So after all of these tales from the wild, I started wondering, why it is that we seem to have an overabundance of a species in any given year?

Was there a certain type of grass that the drought produced that “fertilized” the prairie dogs and cottontails?

And then, in turn, did the surplus of rodents literally feed the crow population? And, if so, what would that mean in the future? Will next year’s particularly plentiful crop be predictable? I turned to my husband as I tried to formulate an answer.

“What feeds on crows?” I asked him.

“What?” he asked, taken aback by my question.

“Crows,” I answered, “What eats crows?

“Well,” he replied, “We all do, occasionally, don’t we?”

Oh, I see.

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