PSU Deer Study

A couple of years ago I discovered that my game camera could capture video clips.  Seeing the action is way more exciting than imagining it in a still photo. Sure you have to spend more time watching leaves wave in the breeze, but when you get an animal (not just deer!) “on film” it’s worth it.

An avid reader and friend of the blog shared some video of does and fawns he captured on our northern study areas. Most of the doe are not collared, but he did get one of our collared females.  It’s always great to see one of our study animals in action and successful in her mom endeavors.

You may be blinded by the ridiculous cuteness, but see if you notice anything else after watching these videos. Enjoy!

So what did you see besides super cute fawns bouncing in the forest?  

How about no twins?  Of the 6 videos, only 1 contained twins. That’s not unusual since by this time of year 30-40% of fawns have died. By the end of summer about half will have survived.

Here are some other fun facts we’ve covered in the blog about deer reproduction

  • In northern Pennsylvania very few 1-year-old females give birth (breed their first fall as fawns) but as many as 50% of fawns get bred in southern Pennsylvania
  • Most adult does do get pregnant and the majority of them give birth to 2 fawns
  • Triplets are extremely rare (<2% of females give birth to triplets)
  • If a doe gives birth to 2 fawns, they developed from 2 separately fertilized eggs. In fact, 20-25% of “twins” have different fathers!

The other thing to notice is how all the fawns are constantly playing catch-up to mom. Mom is an important source of food and affords some measure of protection from predators. But seeing them, I can almost hear her saying “Hurry up!” – the mantra of every mother of every species on the planet.  Even in hunting season, fawns are pretty clueless about danger and depend on mom to raise her white “flag” which translates into “Be Careful!”  Another refrain of motherhood. 

-Duane Diefenbach

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