"Bright Eyes" California Mule Deer Fawn (Odocoileus hemionus)
Portola Valley, California
This image has been featured by Wildcare on their website and at a gala fundraising event in 2014 with Robert Redford's son, so I am thrilled it has been put to good use to help sick or orphaned California wildlife!
Mule Deer have large ears that move constantly and independently, from whence they get their name, "Mule" or "Burro Deer." They do not run as other deer, but have a peculiar and distinctive bounding leap (stotting) over distances up to 8 yards, with all 4 feet coming down together. In this fashion, they can reach a speed of 45 m.p.h. for short periods.
Fawns are born in late May or early June. A doe will usually produce a single fawn the first year she gives birth and then produce twins in following years. The fawn, colored reddish with white spots, weighs about 6 pounds at birth. It must nurse within the first hour and stand within the first 12 hours. During early weeks of life, the fawn sees its mother only at mealtimes for feeding. Spots begin to fade by the end of the first month. They have white camouflage spots and are further protected by having little or no scent. Fawns usually stay with the doe for the first full year.
Since prehistoric times the Native American indigenous peoples of California are known to have hunted California mule deer. Thus, since about 12,000 BCE, human populations have served as a control to the numbers of California mule deer. In the modern era, since European colonists and Euro-Americans settled in California, hunting pressure intensified as the human population expanded and hunting became an activity not only associated with food supply. In addition, human population growth (through urban development) in California has consumed large amounts of natural habitat of the California mule deer starting in the late 19th century and continuing through the present.
I came across this fawn along with its mother in Portola Valley in the late afternoon. Perfectly backlit by the sunlight streaming through the trees, it stopped and looked directly at me with those beautiful, big bright eyes.
Odocoileus hemionusCalifornia Mule DeerPortraitPortola ValleyBabyDeerFawnFaunaMammalCaliforniaWildlifeNature