Monday, July 30, 2012

Not just Maude and Mergatroyd

Near the village of Uno
It turns out that the two white-tailed deer, nicknamed “Maude and Mergatroyd” by my neighbor are really Maude, Mergatroyd, Mitzi, Melissa and Mabel. Yes, there are five of them. Oddly, none of the five doe appear to have fawns this year. Two of the deer are smaller than the other three. I suspect they are last year’s fawns, but that still doesn’t account for the other three, seemingly-fawnless deer.

Very young fawns don’t follow mom as she grazes the day away. They hide. For the first week or so, fawns usually spend the day flattened in a spot mom has determined is “safe.” Actual safety varies. During the first week of camp this year, a fawn was “hidden” in the camp’s fire pit for a day. Very young fawns might not move for any reason—more than a few have been killed when fields are mowed right over a fawn. After that first week, fawns usually spend the day lying down but with their heads and ears up. If danger approaches, they revert to their flattened position to avoid detection, but are more likely to get up and run during an actual threat.

Fawns don’t begin to travel with mom much before they are 4-5 weeks old. By this age, they will choose their own bedding site, and mom will have to call them as even she might not know exactly where they are.

At this point in the summer fawns should be old enough to travel with their moms, so seeing this many doe without any fawns seems odd to me. Dog and I startled these five as we began our early morning, pre-dawn walk. I know we woke them up from their sleep, bouncing them out of their beds as we passed perhaps 40 feet away.

Is it possible any fawns are still young enough to stay put when their moms bolt away at our approach? That’s possible, I guess, but for a fawn that would likely be 6 weeks old by now, that wouldn’t be my first guess. More likely is that these doe don’t have fawns and their female fawns from last year are still running with the older doe. But if I see any fawns in the next week or so, I’ll be sure to adjust my thinking!


Scott said...

Our fawns here further east on the Piedmont have lost nearly all their spots, so ours are all running with their mothers now.

Carolyn H said...

Scott: Wow! Isn't that early to lose their spots? I often see spotted fawns here into early September. it's only when the fawns get their first winter coats that the spots disappear!