Sometimes interesting things are found in our own backyards. My backyard is fairly private as a result of trees and a tall hedge. The yard is a favorite of the local deer population. On excursions around the neighborhood, they regularly rest there for a few hours and munch on the foliage on the lower part of the hedge.
Yesterday’s events, though, were a complete surprise. In the morning I noticed a solitary deer camped out in the backyard. That didn’t seem unusual. In the afternoon, I went out to cut the backyard grass. That was a chore I’d been putting off for a few days. The deer was still there, but I didn’t think disturbing it would be a problem.
But what I didn’t realize was there were two deer – a mother and to my surprise a tiny fawn that looked to be less than a day old. The fawn could barely stand much less walk on its spindly legs. It was unable to follow when the mother left the yard. The fawn froze by the hedge and stayed motionless until I went inside.
The mother didn’t come back immediately. An hour later I checked on the fawn and saw it curled up in the grass. It was well camouflaged.
All together now. One. Two. Three.
There was no sign of mother. Had the fawn been abandoned? I decided that if mom hadn’t returned by the morning, I would call animal control or whatever organization deals with abandoned fawns, if any.
A very quick internet check provided some helpful information about baby deer. An article in Northern Woodlands magazine explains how a doe goes to great lengths to protect her fawns even to the point of eating their poop:
A fawn spends most of its first weeks of life bedded down alone. The doe stays away from her newborn except to nurse it periodically, and to lead it to new bed sites. That way her scent does not attract predators to the area where the fawn is hiding. If she has twins, which is common, the doe will typically hide them in separate places and make the rounds to nurse them. While the fawn nurses excitedly, its tail flicking, the doe licks its fur and genital areas to stimulate urination and defecation. She may also consume the fawn’s droppings to destroy evidence of its presence. Although secrecy is a fawn’s main defense, it has another: mom. If a fawn is in distress, it bleats, and the doe, which stays nearby, usually comes running, ready to defend it with her sharp hooves.
This morning the deer were nowhere to be seen. Mom must have come back I hoped. That was good for the fawn but bad for me since I could now get to the chore I’d been putting off.
A happy family reunion was confirmed this afternoon.
The fawn was gingerly high stepping around the yard on its long legs and even nursing.
To conclude, it was good to know I hadn’t accidentally caused a family separation. Perhaps my backyard will become a preferred hiding spot. That’s okay by me. I’ll just have to keep an eye out for the fawn or its siblings when cutting the grass.
Cheers! I hope all have a great weekend.