Can you tell which one is asking for love….. forgiveness? She had just returned from the prairie, passing me on her way. Can’t help but think the late morning wakeful presence was because of their young age; it was almost noon when this encounter happened. They were the only deer I spied at this late hour, when I otherwise would see quite a few if passing by just after sunrise.
One of two prairie patches in this area of Cook County Forest Preserve, Miami Woods. I’ve seen deer along the bike (and jogger and walker) trail, but never so close to the trail in the prairie area. Yes, they are fairly comfortable with humans passing by; but never tame. I still feel lucky after 27 years of observations when they allow me to watch for a while.
I am no expert on Deer and their predators other than knowing that here it are the coyote and more likely humans’ cars. Does anyone know how this doe most likely lost her fur? My “guess” is from mating since there is no blood or scabs. For the first time ever the two younger doe that accompany her were guarding her; a complete role reversal. But I’ve not seen such injury before. Thanks for any insights you can share!!
Graceful strolls this winter have sometimes been replaced with playful scampering. Three doe that visit daily are joined by two other doe, all of various sizes and ages. I have observed that when two deer romp carefree outside our window I am witnessing a party underway. This image shows the doe’s return to the edge of the forest across the street from our driveway after my presence stifled their fun. The matron seems to be the second from the right who never took her eyes off of me. Obviously I was not a welcome guest at this party.
White cold. It may appear as though I have been hibernating; my posts have been few and far between this “new” year that entered month three today. The reason is a mixture of excuses, typical in nature from work focuses to physical injuries. Nothing life altering, nothing major, but each strong enough when combined with snow white winter cold to keep me from my urban nature photography pursuits.
These images are proudly shared by me but authored by my husband, Steve. His days are lighter in demand and have included regular observations of three to five doe visiting our yard to enjoy our ever-green, yew shrubs. They are a favorite of these White Tailed Deer every winter, relieving us of the need to do pruning come springtime. Amazingly their feasting is evenly distributed between the row of shrubs, providing the appearance of a planned level design.
These images were taken from inside our warm, cozy abode. When I saw them my heart felt less warm, though I know that nature provides for its own. The deer do not know that warmth and dryness is experienced just inside our door. They have enough food courtesy of multiple garden plantings that round out their forest diet. But their snow packed backs were difficult for me to accept. I’m reassured they’re “ok” knowing they visit daily and sometimes frolic on their way.
I think how warm and comfoting my mother’s hand-me-down white coat feels when wearing it for a night out with Steve. My white coat keeps me warm. The deer fur coats keep them warm under their snow white coat. Winter white is natural is a classic fashion testimonial in the Chicagoland area.
Nothing is cuter than a baby fawn. Illinois school children voted the Whitetail Deer their favorite animal in 1980, joining ten other states in their love for this gentle wild animal. Nothing is cuter unless you are a new mom or dad or grandparent. It is a known fact that your new human baby’s cuteness can’t be beat. As fellow mammals we have much in common with Whitetail Deer, yet we are definitely distinct from them as well. Different but same.
No one ever seems to talk about the fact that herbivore mammals begin their life craving dairy. Vegan only after their first five months of life White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are then weaned from their mothers, about the same time their white spots molt away. Vegan persons also nurse their infants, believing that human milk is for humans and cow milk is for cows. When an infant is lactose intolerant then soy milk formulas are used for babies. Different but same.
Natural defenses are often the best defenses. Fawns are born without scent so predators cannot easily smell them. A mother doe will stay away from her fawn for their first few days of life to keep her scent off of them. Human nurturing instincts foster similar close observations, baby bassinets are often in the master bedroom for this very reason. But I cannot imagine a mother purposely keeping a distance even if her baby were still in her vision. Contact is a human necessity between mother and baby. And anyone who’s held a baby knows how wonderful their scent (most of the time). The constant closeness of mother and baby is the primary deterrent from stranger danger. Many white spots on a reddish brown silky fur coat are the second line of defense from predators for fawn. Their spotty coat easily blends into a field of dappled colors and spotty patches of sunlight through a forest. Different but same.
Birthrates for fawns do not rise nine months after a power outage or end of war; they are consistently born between late April and early July. The twins in these images were born at the end of this season. A seven month gestation period is less for fawn than baby, but once born their development is swift reaching adulthood in their first year. 25% of does are able to give birth when one year old. Fawns weigh between four and eight pounds when born and within eight months weigh in between seventy to eighty five pounds. That’s a lot of nursing and vegetables. Most mothers I know would not agree such rapid passage through their child’s stages of development, except perhaps for the terrible twos. And fawns do not need new clothes and shoes as they constantly grow larger. Different but same.
I thank this young mother doe for allowing me to linger and photograph her and her young twins yesterday. It was truly difficult for me to return home to my empty nest! I wonder….different but same?
Great sites for more information on Whitetail Deer fawn:
I had fun being the voyeur. The buck was obviously flirting with the doe. At one point he even chased her around playfully. She would run a bit and then stop and then he’d stare and plan his next move. They were never far from each other and she never made much effort to escape his advances.
October through December is mating season for these gentle giants. I can be sure to find buck to “shoot” during these this season as they roam in their small bachelor groups looking for the ladies. This was my first time wandering into a male and female relationship; and didn’t stay long enough to intrude on their time together. But fun to watch two large deer at play.