Twin fawns join the temporary nursery that is my wooded backyard

This is the fawn I saw first, but from the back. I named it Sunday, for the day of the week of its birth. It will be a week old on July 2.

By Betty Gordon

© 2017 text and photos. All rights reserved.

Sixteen days after the little fawn that I named Friday was born (June 9), another doe larger than Friday’s mother decided that the wooded environment that is my backyard would be a dandy place to deliver her young also.

But this time, it was double the little darlings: I found two fawns snuggling individually but within eyesight of each other. One was settled in the open among the leaves and twigs and decomposing branches. The other was near the base of an oak tree.

I’ve named the first Sunday. I saw the length of its dotted back first and I walked gingerly toward it. I moved around to the right to get a better look at its face and to make sure it was breathing, trying not to snap branches and startle it. That’s when I saw the second fawn. I named that one Sammy.

When I moved around to the right of Sunday, I saw the second fawn tucked in beside an oak tree. This one I’ve named Sammy. You can see Sammy’s ears have far more black on them than Sunday’s, which are light tan.

I’m sure mom was around while I was taking photos and trying not to intrude on the newborns, probably lurking in the woods watching my every move.

Just like with Friday’s mother, for about a week, I kept seeing the larger doe closer to my house and property than normal. She is taller and older than Friday’s mother, and her belly looked heavier too. I thought there was a good possibility of twins.

Like Friday’s mother’s behavior, which I wrote about on my June 10 post, the bigger doe was testing locations in which to give birth. One of the areas under consideration was the patch under the oak tree in the front yard, facing the house. I spotted her around 11 p.m. midweek, and delayed my dog’s “last out before bedtime,” hoping she’d relocate. About an hour later, she had.

Saturday morning (June 24), she was sitting in the backyard, facing the woods, calmly chewing her cud. But she was much closer to the house than Friday’s mother had been, who had chosen a more secluded spot in the corner of the woods for Friday’s birth.

When my canine and I got back from an early afternoon walk on Sunday (June 25), the larger doe was standing on the stairs of our front landing, just as Friday’s mother had done. While the deer visit my yard nearly every day, they don’t usually get that close to the front door.

I caught the larger doe in the act of eating leaves off the top of an azalea bush. She ran off before I could make a determination if she had delivered the fawns yet.

About midafternoon, I looked out the kitchen window, searching for the larger doe. She wasn’t there, and I didn’t spy any fawns either. I think they may have already been born, but I didn’t see them, some leafy branches obscuring my view of part of the landscape. Young fawns also benefit from about 300 spots on their fur that provide camouflage.

The fawns were close enough to see each other, but I don’t think there was much in the way of interaction going on. Except for their gentle breathing, they weren’t moving. Sunday is in the upper left of the photo. Sammy is beside the tree at mid-right.

A couple of hours later, about 7 p.m., I decided to explore at ground level. That’s when I found them. Neither had the “wet” look to its fur that newborns possess after having been licked clean by mom. It’s also possible that they were born elsewhere and relocated to this safe space while mom went off to look for food. There’s even a chance that two different does gave birth, but I don’t believe that’s the case.

So I think they may have been born earlier in the afternoon, maybe around the time when I found their mother nibbling the azalea leaves.

As you can see by the photos, Sunday and Sammy’s ears are distinctly different. Sunday’s are all light tan on the exterior, with soft pink inside. Sammy’s are shaded black from about mid-ear all the way to the tips.

And Sunday is a bit larger in overall body size.

I watched them for about 15 minutes. Then Sunday got up and ran off into the woods on the side of the house. I was losing the light needed for more photos, so I headed back inside.

Sammy was still resting beside the tree trunk.

About midnight, I saw mom and one of the fawns standing on the lawn between my house and my neighbors’. In that my dog was straining at his leash, they turned and ran.

I’ve seen them several times during the week. On Wednesday, their mom must have brought them over sometime earlier in the day. It was late afternoon when I saw them resting in almost the exact same spots where they were newborns: Sunday in the open, Sammy near the tree trunk.

Part of my summer enjoyment will be watching all three fawns grow.

An update on Friday

The first fawn is 3 weeks old now. The day after Friday was born, I saw the fawn and mother in the woods next to my house. From my deck, I could get an extended look at both without either being frightened away.

Friday at 1 day old. The fawn got the logistics of feeding immediately. I took this photo standing on my deck.

Friday was underneath mom, facing toward me. Friday’s tiny head was turned up, feeding from mom, periodically stopping to breathe, then aggressively drawing more mother’s milk. The attentive doe’s head was curled around to her infant, cleaning Friday’s bottom. It’s what does do for their young.

I haven’t seen Friday this week, but I’m not worried about the little one’s well-being. The fawn is just probably deeper in the woods adjacent to my neighborhood or is with its family unit, roaming one of the subdivisions that backs up to mine.




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