Saturday, May 30, 2009

Deer Ears

I saw the first pair of fawns today. The does have been unusually secretive the last few weeks, so I suspected they were bedding down and birthing. Here's a doe 2 weeks ago who was lurking behind the woodshed for several days. I often spotted her in the evening as I came in the farmyard gate and would invite her to bring out her young 'uns for baby photos, but she did not indulge me. When I climbed the steep slope behind the woodshed to peek through the thick brush, I only spotted more farm junk.

The deer on the ranch don't usually lurk. They're either boldly eating fruit in the orchard, or they are checking you out from the far side of the pasture. I can step out of the house with my morning coffee and every deer this side of the canyon will look up. The cows don't even notice, they just keep grazing. Either they are loud eaters, or they don't find me nearly as entertaining as the deer do.

--- Doe eating loquat fruit in the backyard. They especially like the dry leaves.
This one has not spotted me through the bedroom window yet and is swiveling her left ear to track down the sound of my camera motor. ---

This evening, I noticed the fawns as I gave up on my brushcutter. The darn thing will work like a champ for hours but as soon as the sun slips behind the hills or the fog rolls in, it refuses to start. I'm sure I had something to say about that which probably caught the fawns' attention. As I stood up in frustration from the stubborn brushcutter, I saw four tiny ears aimed at me. The deer have a particular angle they cock their ears when they are watching you, something like 50 degrees. It's such a distinct pattern, I can now sometimes spot a deer watching me even if it is standing in a thicket.

--- While one deer is stealing plums,
the other one has spotted me and is aiming its ears my way. ---

The fawns stood rump to rump for awhile so they looked like a miniature push-me-pull-you in the grass. I didn't get a photo of tonight's twins, but here is pair of does taking the same pose in February as they watched me labor up a hill. Check out those ears.

Tonight, I scanned the pasture by the fawns and found a doe pointing her ears my way too, so I stopped cursing at the brushcutter. She bounded off, nonetheless, with the two fawns making tiny up and down leaps behind her.

My neighbor on the Hununu Ranch describes a doe using the same location behind her house year after year for raising her twins. Last summer after reading Mary's description, I noticed that each doe-fawn family would come out of the same brush patch and browse in the same general location at dusk. I started to recognize each family by their territory, the number of fawns trailing the doe (one, two or three) and any peculiar marks on their bodies, such as the doe with a cut in her left ear who lives in the willow thicket by the 3 bathtubs and only has one fawn. There is probably a Native Peoples name for all that.

--- By September, the yearling bucks get tiny antler bumps. ---

My backyard is sometimes like a giant slow-motion nature film. Usually there is something interesting to see at some point in the day. I am probably just as entertaining to the deer as they frequently train their ear antennas my way.


  1. Just saw your link on PW, and I just had to come over and say "right on"...I did the same sort of thing after my chemo treatments. You gotta celebrate another day of life, don't you?

    4 years now for me. Every day's a gift.

  2. Hey - your public awaits a new post! (Nudge, nudge, no pressure.)

    Have you & MROSD heard about this conference?

    It looks awesome, I wish I could go.



  3. Yah, yah, the mowing/wildlife post is written but my handsome model left before I got photos . . . another one is coming in this week, so see if that makes you even more anxious.


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