Thursday, October 16, 2008

Whitetail Fawns Nursing In Autumn

Fawns feed on the mother's milk at birth and continue to do so throughout the summer, but as the animal grows older, plants provide a progressively larger proportion of their diet. The does stand patiently for lengthy periods in early summer, but their tolerance for nursing grows less as the summer progresses. By September they only allow the fawns to feed for short periods, before they take decisive, evasive action.

While fawns usually nurse from their mothers, it is common for them to attempt to feed from another doe. This happens more often when the mothers are reluctant to feed the fawns. In such cases, I have seen as many as four fawns attack one doe. "Attack" is an apt description in many cases as the fawns run rapidly to the doe, slam into her, and feed aggressively-often butting their heads violently against the does' udder.

This series was especially amusing as the doe in question is 1 1/2 years old, has never had fawns, and therefore has no milk.

I saw the fawns running for the doe and pressed the shutter release on burst mode as they piled into her. Here are the three best captures, which show what evasive action a doe may take.

All shots were taken with a Canon 30-D and 500mmF4 lens

The fawns then went looking for a more receptive doe. I have watched deer for years, but never cease to be amazed by many of the things that they do.

The series was taken at 8:00 on Monday morning.


fishing guy said...

Willard: That is a wonderful capture of the young doe.
BTW: I'm really enjoying the Elk video not only for the wildlife but also your neat scenery you have added of the mountains.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Before reading your post, I had no idea that fawns nurse for so long and that they will sometimes attack any doe to get milk. Fascinating!

Kerri said...

How interesting! Great captures too!!

DeeMom said...

A Wonderful series of shots.
You have captured this beautifully.
I ONCE saw a doe and her two faws and it was a thrill for me to behold nature at its best

Stacey Huston said...

So glad you were able to capture these three images..
I have loved the other posts also.. the Moose you ran across in Yellowstone was magnificent..

Louise said...

The things we see through your camera and eyes are so wonderful. I love this one. It's amusing besides being interesting.

Ken Conger Photography said...

Interesting series. I like the 2nd image of the doe in the air. Blue Skies.

T and S said...

Tender moments of nature very well captured. Beautiful...Willard

Anonymous said...

Really lovely photos.

I never saw this before in a deer but have in many other animals including human beings back when moms flopped breasts out everywhere to feed some pretty big babies. Now, I suppose they would be arrested, thrown in jail, have their children taken away and fined.

Times change.

Bradley Myers said...

Great shots again Willard, I bet it was even more exciting to watch than it was to photograph. I have never had the chance to see this occur in the wild but maybe with retirement nearing that oportunity will come up.

Thanks for the great photos and lessons.

Cathy said...

I love the photos and humor of this post. For that matter, I enjoy your entire blog!