Monday, June 4, 2012

Amateur Natural History

I'm in Miami right now, and what with traveling yesterday didn't take the time to tell this little story so here goes. I was in my field yesterday morning when I heard a sound down in the bushes that sounded sort of, but not quite, like a dog barking, with commotion of a large animal.

Then a deer came shooting out of the woods, bounding at warp speed from some unseen menace, and it was the deer that was making the barking noise. I went on-line to check out audio of white tailed deer vocalizations, and I didn't find anything like it. More of an "oof oof off" than a dog's bark maybe. Presumably it's an alarm call, so hunters wouldn't want to imitate it, which would explain why I couldn't find a sample.

Oh yeah, in case you didn't know, deer make a lot of vocalizations, connected with mating, buck fighting over mates, mothers calling children, and calling together herds. But they're mostly rather quiet, more like clicks and rumbles than yelps.

For unknown reasons, I'll see deer in groups of any size from solitary animals, to pairs, to herds of a dozen or more. Why they form these fluid groups at times, and at times are alone, I have no idea. Turkeys are the same way, except that the possible size of a turkey flock is unlimited, as far as I know. Once I went down to the field and there were a hundred of them there, wall to wall over a good half an acre. Other times you'll see two or three. Of course you'll see a mother with chicks, and sometimes the mothers pair up so you'll see two of them with all their chicks together. Why? Beats me.


  1. I don't think I've ever heard a deer vocalization. How lucky that you did. I know I've never seen a field with a hundred turkeys. That must have been quite a sight.

  2. Sorry to say, years ago I was walking in the woods with one dog on leash and my mother's Weimaraner off leash. My mother's dog suddenly took off across the brook and into the woods. Next thing I know, there's a crashing of bushes and a fawn came running with my mother's dog behind it. I can tell you that fawns in terror bleat. I screamed myself hoarse at my mother's dog, but couldn't get across the brook easily. By the time I had tied up the on-leash dog and waded across the brook and tracked down the *&(^$#@! dog (I'm an ardent dog-lover, but I never liked that dog), it was too late. The fawn was dead.

  3. Just a couple of days ago I had to stop for a doe crossing the road with a tiny faun behind her - it couldn't have been more than 14 inches at the shoulder. As sad as you must have felt about the dog, it made me think of the days when wolves and pumas roamed these woods. The lives of those delicate, helpless creatures must have been perilous indeed.