Into the Outdoors: fascinating things about deer


As promised last week, we are going to take a look at some rather fascinating things about deer. Some of the most interesting things surround does and fawns. Fawns are born around this time of year. This info comes from Dave Lewis, who has studied the critters intensively. The doe eats her own placenta after giving birth, in order to remove the scent from the area. She then licks the fawn until it is free of scent, as a protection from predators. The fawn then hides in the grass. Some are accidentally killed when farmers mow their fields and, unable to see the fawns, hits them with the blade.

The fawns nurse for about three months, usually until the spots with which the fawns are born, disappear. The weaning process begins once the fawns start eating browse. If a fawn is orphaned before weaning, another doe might very well take over its care.

A lot of fawns are hit by cars each year, so be careful. If a doe crosses in front of you, there’s a good chance there is a fawn following her, so be extra watchful

Fawns face hazards that are not always the result of humans. Dogs and coyotes prey on them frequently. They are also on the menu for bears and bobcats. I have also heard that they are sometimes attacked by birds of prey, although I must admit that I am a bit skeptical of that one. As the season progresses, we will look more at the wily whitetail.

Now, for another topic. – I’ve always been fascinated by woodpeckers. We always keep a suet block outside to attract them. Not long ago, a pileated woodpecker showed up at our feeder. These are, perhaps, the strangest and neatest of all woodpeckers. Years ago, they were considered very rare in Pennsylvania. I once read an article that said that they were once hunted for food. Supposedly, they were easy to call in. This would explain their rarity, but, personally, despite my adventurous palate, I have never given any thought to eating woodpeckers. Anyway, these largest woodpeckers have enjoyed a comeback in recent years. At one time, they were creatures exclusively of the deep woods, but now they are showing up more and more often closer to civilization. They are extremely easy to identify. First of all, they are big, almost reaching the size of a wood duck. They have a high crest, bright red in color. The rest is black, with some white on the head and breast. Their primary food is grubs, sometimes bored from the center of very large trees. They have a long, barb-tipped tongue which helps them to grab their prey. I suspect that it is this protein instinct that draws them to suet. They are also known as logcock. This is sometimes confused with woodcock, a game bird, which could explain they're sometimes being shot.

The next largest woodpecker in these parts is the northern flicker. Once extremely common, it seems that they are seen less often nowadays. The short description of them would be larger than a robin, basically golden in color, with accents of red. Their favorite food is ants, and they will perch on an anthill and use their long beak to reach in and eat the critters by the dozen. It would appear that the stings and bites have no effect on them.

In the future, we will look at some of our smaller woodpeckers.

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