THIS TIME OF YEAR there are all sorts of newborns around. I heard a strange noise back of the house at the edge of the field. I wondered what strange bird might be calling and noticed a big deer looking at me. She was listening to the sound too, and it was from her newborn fawn.

The fawn was lost in the deep grass, and she was preparing to defend it. I was at the house and safe, but one should always back away to calm the mother. The wobbly-legged fawn finally reached her.

I have seen a doe attack a dog by running at it and striking with her front hooves. These can be deadly spears, and at the very least cause a lot of painful damage. Maybe a pack of several coyotes or dogs might succeed in getting to her offspring, but I certainly wouldn’t want to attempt it. This deer snorted at me too, a warning given before a charge, and a warning to come no closer.

Doe and fawn. Photo by Nancy Jane Kern

There is less danger when the offspring is older and can run away with the mother. For now, I am content to watch the spotted little ones from the porch as the bounce across the yard into the woods or hop into the air through deep grass trying to follow their mother.

Birds also defend their young and the adults often attack a predator. It is a good idea to wear a hat because some hawks will try to rip open your scalp with their talons if you walk under their nest tree. I visited a colony of birds on an island off the coast of Maine one summer and was constantly attacked by terns. Their nests, eggs and young were in the sand on the ground and the adults were not happy. As we avoided stepping on them, we also had to wave our hands over our heads to scare off the parents who flew at us. Fortunately, we were heading for the shelter of a blind. We must have been a sight.

We are finally returning to some semblance of normal human life again, a great improvement over last year’s Covid-19 hell. Spring is here, summer is coming soon, and with some caution for the newborns, it is a wonderful time to enjoy the outdoors.

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