It seems strange to talk about snow after days and days of 50- and 60-degree temperatures and rain have left us with virtually none. This observation happened just over a week ago.
Near the compost pile I noticed a bright blue spot
and then another that I had walked right by without noticing.
I had heard of this phenomenon before: animals eat some kind of plant, which turns their urine blue. I thought I had heard it was caused by deer or rabbits, and either could be the culprit in our yard. So I started looking around, and then I started noticing lots of round scat, which means rabbits. (Deer scat is more oval.)
The plant: was it buckthorn? Hmm, didn’t we just realize we have a patch of buckthorn in the yard?
Yep, the stems of these small trees (which I suspect are buckthorn, given their appearance and location close to confirmed buckthorn) seem to have been snacked. An Instagram friend told me last year that rabbits chew the stems of plants cleanly at a 45-degree angle, like the photo above, while deer cuts are more crushed or ragged. Rabbits are also known to remove the bark all the way around a tree, potentially like the messy work below – though so are deer. This damage’s cause is less clear to me.
Several unofficial sources agree that both rabbits and deer are the animals in the equation, and the chemical is almost always from buckthorn (though apparently salts could be another culprit). Interestingly enough, it’s the bark of buckthorn, and not the berries, that causes this phenomenon.
And a closer look at the first spot showed some rabbit scat right next to the blue.
If only the rabbits could eat enough of the buckthorn to kill it.