More than birds out in the Desert

January 27, 2015
On my recent visit to Santa Cruz Flats with an Audubon group, I saw, for the first time,

The Antelope Jackrabbit -- not to be confused with the Jackalope (a fictional cross between an antelope and jackrabbit, likenesses of which are sold in old-west shops) -- prefers ultra dry desert such as the Santa Cruz Flats.  What caught my attention when it hopped away from us was the white on its hips and legs.  Its ears, too, were lined with white instead of black.

The Black-tailed Jackrabbit is the only one I had seen in the Sonoran Desert in the Phoenix area: perhaps four to six each year at various birding locations.  Veterans Oasis Park in Chandler is a good birding spot for running across this species.

Both of these hare have very long ears - up to 8" long that help to regulate their temperature. They both also have very long strong hind legs that enable them to hop 5 to 10 feet at a time.
The Antelope Jackrabbit is slightly larger than the Black-tailed weighing about ten pounds, to the Black-taileds six pounds.  

Named after the fast African antelope, the Antelope Jackrabbit can accelerate up to 45 mph., while the Black-taileds reach only about 30 mph. Wouldn't that be a sight to behold?!   Both hare are nocturnal, so I feel lucky to have seen, finally, the one I had never laid eyes on before.  In daytime, both species can be resting in the shade beneath a large plant.  When disturbed, they tend to sit up, size up the situation, then take a few lazy hops unless pursued when they expand their hopping distance to three or more feet.

The Black-tailed Jackrabbit is browner overall than the Antelope and its very large ears are tipped with black.  It's about two feet long and weighs up to six pounds.

Black-tailed Jackrabbit photographed at Veterans Oasis Park, Chandler, AZ
The Antelope Jackrabbit is a bit larger and heavier at ten pounds.
Antelope Jackrabbit photo from internet.
Seeing either jackrabbit hopping across the desert is enough to stop me in my tracks!

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