Maybe since Beatrix Potter stories were favorites of mine as a child, I've got a soft spot for Eastern cottontails. As we converted our lawn to include more shrubs, trees, herbaceous plants, and mulched areas, we were delighted to see cottontails appear. They never seemed to bother my vegetable plants, even lettuce and carrots, apparently much preferring the white clover that punctuated the remaining lawn. They like broad-leaved plants best, so succulent stems and leaves of clover, plantain, and dandelion make a perfect meal. We even had a small family one season.
But then they disappeared, we thought because our neighbors and their young children encouraged stray cats by feeding them, and a couple of them were quite determined hunters. We figured that they were responsible to the chipmunk decline, disappearance of cottontails, not mention worry about birds in our garden.
So I was delighted late yesterday afternoon to see an Eastern cottontail hopping off to cover, as I came around the house and disturbed him or her from her nibbling on some chickweed.