Sad and distressing events in the private and public spheres conspired to make the past 10 days rather depressing; it seemed every time I looked at the news, there was just more to grieve about. A nature walk always helps get my mind off that stuff and I often discover new things to boot.
Sometimes, though, I don’t even have to leave the house to get a little bit of cheer. Young white-tailed deer fawns (Odocoileus virginianus) can exhibit such exuberance when they feel they are in a safe place that you almost feel like joining them in dashing, darting and jumping in delight.
This year, the local deer family did not produce many offspring, undoubtedly adjusting to the urban environment. We have had very little rain this summer and their food supplies have dwindled way down. The ground-feeding birds do not always get to the seed first.
Four does, whom I am calling Mama, Plain Jane, White Spot and Grandma, visit my yard several times a day, sometimes alone and sometimes in the company of one or two others. At first, they were accompanied by one fawn, whom I was calling Baby. Baby could be the offspring of Mama or White Spot; oddly, I have seen both of them nursing her. I believe Plain Jane is the mother of a second fawn that showed up later; the two babies sometimes come together now.
Grass has dried up, shrubs have shriveled and even my normally flowering plants are having a hard time. The deer are very hungry; I saw one nibbling on a crepe myrtle tree – something I had never seen in the more than 14 years I have lived here. Most of the time, my bird feeders are up high but when I hung one lower, Grandma took advantage of my forgetfulness. I don’t mind if they eat some of the bird seed and I have left some grapevine leaves for them as well.
I keep my fingers crossed that Baby will make it since a neighbor a couple blocks away, informed me that a fawn fell prey to coyotes there. (Perhaps that one belonged to either Mama or White Spot and accounts for both of them caring for Baby??) A fox was strolling through my yard the other day so the predators are certainly around. When no perceived danger is near, Baby really demonstrates what the verb “gamboling” is all about.
When they get going, these little fawns can reach high speeds – and fly a little bit!
Sometimes, it looks a bit like they are demonstrating a deer yoga pose.
Since I spray the plants I want to keep with deer repellant and I am ok with the family eating other plants, I have no problem with their frequent visits. In fact, I look forward to seeing them and having Baby lift my spirits!
Next blog: another wildlife spirit-lifter!