Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

What startled me when I raised my glance

with 62 comments

So there I was on May 1st on a path coming off Yaupon Dr. on the far side of my neighborhood. I walked slowly, gazing down at either side of the path in search of native wildflowers, when something at the top of my field of vision brought me to a standstill: not far in front of me, lying right in the middle of the trail, was a fawn. I remembered reading that a fawn instinctively stays put and doesn’t move when its mother leaves it alone, and that was the case with this fawn. During the several minutes that I took a few pictures, it never budged an inch. Had I been a coyote or an off-leash dog, the fawn’s immobility would have been useless.

A few minutes earlier, before advancing this far, I’d looked ahead and spotted an adult deer that stared at me for five or ten seconds from farther down the trail, then moved away. That must have been the fawn’s mother.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 8, 2021 at 4:00 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , ,

62 Responses

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  1. Great shots !
    Let’s hope the fawn and the mother deer will be reunited after your encounter.

    picpholio

    May 8, 2021 at 4:05 AM

  2. how utterly sweet and beautiful – hopefully mama returned soon after

    beth

    May 8, 2021 at 6:27 AM

  3. What a find! You’d expect it would be hidden in something.

    susurrus

    May 8, 2021 at 6:36 AM

    • I wondered about that, too. There were plenty of nearby spots behind bushes and trees where the fawn wouldn’t have been visible.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 8, 2021 at 7:11 AM

  4. Oh, it’s beautiful! It must have been a beautiful moment for you too.

    circadianreflections

    May 8, 2021 at 7:14 AM

  5. Very beautiful captures.

    rabirius

    May 8, 2021 at 7:18 AM

  6. There’s a reason for the annual articles and news reports cautioning people not to disturb fawns and baby birds that seem to be ‘abandoned.’ I’m surprised to see this one left in such an open area, but how lucky for you. Perhaps your urban deer have developed some different habits. It’s a beautiful creature, and if the adult deer you saw wasn’t its mother, I’m sure she was nearby.

    shoreacres

    May 8, 2021 at 7:19 AM

    • You’re not alone in puzzling over why the fawn got left in such an open place when sheltered spots lay close at hand. I wondered whether something startled the mother into running away, but then I assume the fawn would have immediately have followed her. Maybe deer “mother” Lori (Littlesundog) will offer an explanation. In any case, it was a great opportunity for photographer me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 8, 2021 at 7:40 AM

  7. Such vulnerable preciousness

    Lemony

    May 8, 2021 at 7:38 AM

    • Vulnerable indeed. I wonder if it would carry any weight in convincing people who let their dogs run wild in nature parks to stop doing that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 8, 2021 at 7:42 AM

  8. What a sweet encounter, Steve! I’d bet the fawn’s mother was trying to get your attention and lure you away from her little kid.

    Peter Klopp

    May 8, 2021 at 8:38 AM

  9. I am bubbling with glee at seeing your post this morning! I first noticed the color of your fawn is much darker brown than what our whitetail fawns are here. I think that is a regional characteristic. This appears to be a less-than-a-week-old fawn – perhaps even just a day or two old. Instinctually, they find their own spot to bed down in. The mother may select the area, but the fawn finds its spot. Once her babies settle down in different spots many yards from each other, say one-hundred yards or more, (they generally have two fawns) the mother will take off for a few hours, eating voraciously and doing “patrol” to watch for predators, and generally run every mammal in the area off. And a fawn will not move or get up until it hears the call of its mother, which is a low, short grunt or buzz. Only then will the fawn rise and come to the mother for its milk. This goes on for about a month, before she brings her babies out to explore the area a bit more, allowing her offspring from the year before to be present again. Now, this could have been the birthing area that you happened upon. The mama doe could have been off getting the other fawn settled before returning to fetch this one. Most does deliver babies in the early morning, and we have noted that many times this occurs in a morning rain. The mother cleans the fawns after birth, and also cleans the entire birthing area, eating not only the placenta but any plants in that spot. She will lay, resting, with her newborns for about an hour or two before moving them away from the birthing site. On the other hand, this could very well have been a rather poor choice of a spot to bed down in. We have seen a few in our own woods, who were easy to spot alongside the buggy trails we have through the woods. I would also guess that was the mother doe you saw earlier. They’re never far from their babies the first couple of weeks. Oh, there is so much to share… we should begin seeing fawns here in the next couple of weeks.

    What a wonderful find, Steve! I like both of these images very much. There is so much to love about these sweet, long-legged, spotted babies. Your photos made my day!

    Littlesundog

    May 8, 2021 at 8:54 AM

    • Happy day: I figured you’d be bubbling with glee. It’s interesting that this fawn is of a much darker brown than the ones you’re used to up there. I guess it’s the deer equivalent of different races among people. I’d wondered how old this fawn was and now you’ve given us an estimate. I didn’t know that although the mother selects the area to settle down in the fawn picks its own spot within that area. I also wasn’t aware that there are usually two fawns at a time, which then leaves open the possibility they’ll settle in spots that may be somewhat distant from each other. Needless to say I didn’t know all the other things you’ve also filled us in on.

      Now let me ask a question. I was tempted to touch the fawn but I worried that that might terrify it, so I kept some distance. Was I being overly worried, or did I do right by not touching?

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 8, 2021 at 10:08 AM

      • Good question! If you had touched the fawn, likely it would not have responded at all, and you could have even picked it up and relocated it in a more camouflaged setting just a few feet or yards away. However, most times I don’t advise touching because it can cause stress. Fawns at this age also slow their heart rate down when confronted with danger. After the first week or two, though, they jump and run. The first week or two is the most dangerous for them with predators.

        A first-time mother doe generally has one fawn, but our first rehab fawn, Daisy, had twins the first time. Twins are normal, but we’ve also seen triplets here on the property. When the doe allows her fawns to meet after about three or four weeks, they seem very excited to discover each other. They behave as any human siblings would – playing together and challenging each other.

        Since we had to let the pecan orchard go wild (too many storms and high winds, and heavy pecan crops broke limbs and took down trees) we have noticed a higher survival rate of fawns.

        Littlesundog

        May 8, 2021 at 10:26 AM

        • It’s interesting that you’ve noticed a higher fawn survival rate with the pecan orchard gone wild. Now, if I decided to go wild, you might see me doing something as outlandish as walking around with a fawn in my arms.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 8, 2021 at 12:42 PM

        • You may also want to follow the link two comments down for Timmy in the Garden.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 8, 2021 at 6:57 PM

  10. Oh what a remarkable find. The fawns in our neighborhood are a bit lighter. Just as cute. We have a whole herd of deer patrolling our neighborhood here in Berkeley. We’ve had to very securely fence our yard to keep them from coming in and eating everything that grows. They seem to instinctively go for the most expensive stuff first. I would be very hesitant to touch a fawn especially if mom is nearby. Mom might not cotton for some biped handling her baby.

    Michael Scandling

    May 8, 2021 at 10:47 AM

    • A remarkable find it was. I’ve seen my share of fawns in our neighborhood, but never up close like this till that morning.

      I can relate to what you say about fencing your yard. Shortly after we moved to our current house in 2004, I accidentally left the side gate open one afternoon and we came home to find a deer in the back yard eating a plant someone had given Eve as a housewarming present.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 8, 2021 at 12:51 PM

  11. Timmy in the Garden


    Did I ever send you this? (Don’t try this at home.)

    tonytomeo

    May 8, 2021 at 4:16 PM

  12. Stunning photographs. What a beautiful little creature.

  13. Amazing!

    Eliza Waters

    May 8, 2021 at 9:01 PM

  14. You aready saw a fawn?! WOW, and lucky you. 🙂 That must have been a very early one. We’re still waiting for “ours” to appear.
    Have a wonderful Sunday,
    Pit

    Pit

    May 9, 2021 at 11:44 AM

    • Lori (Littlesundog) estimates the one I found was no more than a week or two old. Your slightly cooler temperature may correlate with fawn births there a little later than in Austin. Happy anticipation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2021 at 3:37 PM

  15. Wow, what a fantastic opportunity, and fortunate for the fawn it was you who found it. I love the coloration on such a small and beautiful animal. I’ve seen fawns left just off the trail before, but never right on it. I wonder if that means the mother feels pretty safe in that area.

    Todd Henson

    May 9, 2021 at 6:38 PM

    • I can’t say who or what else might also have come across the immobile fawn. I hope that once I cleared out the mother came back and led the fawn away. Some time before I got to the fawn a couple came from that direction; the said something about the flowers I was photographing but never mentioned having found a fawn, so I’m assuming it wasn’t there yet. A few minutes after I left the fawn I encountered a woman walking a dog on a nearby parallel path and I asked her if she was about to swing around to the one where the deer had been. She said no, and I explained that the reason I’d asked was because I was afraid that if she did go that way her dog might start barking at the fawn.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2021 at 8:39 PM

  16. Beautiful youngster! What species of deer?

    Lavinia Ross

    May 10, 2021 at 10:37 AM

    • I realized I never did identify the species here. Austin has just one, the white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginiana. In west Texas mule deer keep them company.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 10, 2021 at 11:56 AM

  17. Lovely. I’ve come across fawns like this twice, in a park near Rochester, where the deer have become very used to passersby, and it’s always a thrill. These are wonderful shots.

    Robert Parker

    May 10, 2021 at 1:41 PM

    • Then you’re one ahead of me. I hope I can catch up to you. Maybe it’ll be like the kind of bright blue lizard I’d never seen but then saw twice in less than a month.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 10, 2021 at 1:53 PM

  18. What a beauty, Steve. I have had similar encounters with fawns stop me in my tracks. Even though we know we are supposed to leave them alone, I can relate to individuals who feel the urge to intervene.

    tanjabrittonwriter

    May 10, 2021 at 3:07 PM

  19. Great find and very good that you knew the fawn was acting as it should. The mother that you saw was likely watching from afar.

    Steve Gingold

    May 11, 2021 at 3:36 AM

    • And what a difference from the last time I was able to walk right up to a deer. That was an obviously sick adult on our front lawn that died there a short time later, while this was a recently born fawn that I hope had a long life to live.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 11, 2021 at 7:21 AM

  20. […] May 1st, about half an hour before I encountered the fawn you recently saw here, I stopped to photograph a rain-lily flower (Zephyranthes drummondii) that was turning pink as it […]

  21. So sweet .. delightful photos

    Julie@frogpondfarm

    May 14, 2021 at 3:44 PM

  22. What an incredible tiny creature! I never had any idea that this behavior was a protective move on the part of a fawn, left alone temporarily. I wonder if the same holds true for one that is standing upright, but all alone on the edge of a wood, or the side of a path?

    Birder's Journey

    May 16, 2021 at 7:00 AM

    • You can imagine how happy I was for the encounter.
      You raise an interesting question about whether a solitary standing fawn also freezes. I haven’t read anything about that. If you find out, please let me know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 16, 2021 at 8:32 AM


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