The Orphan

In late July I was told of a White-tailed deer fawn that was a regular visitor on the grounds of the Morrisville State College Equine Rehabilitation complex. It was often seen feeding around buildings and paddocks in daylight, always alone, and not particularly fearful of people. Since the equine facility is adjacent to a highway, it was logical to assume that the fawn was an orphan, its mother a Department of Transportation statistic.

Interested in its behavior and physical condition over time, I’ve made several trips to see the orphan. I found and photographed it on two occasions, first on August 11 and again today, September 8.

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Fawn, orphan, August 11, 2013

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Fawn, orphan, August 11, 2013

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Fawn, orphan, August 11, 2013

After a 200-day gestation period, peak fawn drop is around June 1, plus or minus two weeks. A fawn is weaned in two to four months (the literature isn’t precise on this) and starts losing its spotted coat in September. This fawn was first observed feeding alone, around people, in late July so I will assume it was orphaned at that time. If it was born in late May, it was cut off from mother’s milk after two months, the minimum weaning time. In all likelihood it has had an inferior diet since that time.

When I saw the orphan today it appeared to be healthy but immature and a bit underweight (my yardstick is the adult doe and her two fawns that I play cat and mouse with on my property on a daily basis). Time will tell if the orphan will have the body mass and survival wisdom to make it through the winter.

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Fawn, orphan, September 8, 2013

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Fawn, orphan, September 8, 2013

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Fawn, orphan, feeding, September 8, 2013

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

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9 thoughts on “The Orphan

  1. Nature is not always kind. It would be interesting to see if this one survives. That said, they are cute and darling, but they can also be very destructive.

    • Thanks Calee. I might do another post on the orphan in a few weeks if the opportunity presents itself. I’m looking forward to more posts from your recent adventures…hope you had the time and weather to shoot!

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