"Let us remember that animals are not mere resources for human consumption.
They are splendid beings in their own right, who have evolved alongside us
as co-inheritors of all the beauty and abundance of life on this planet."
~ Marc Bekoff
Today's post is a little shorter because unexpectedly a mother mule deer give birth in our backyard! May this remind you to consider with reverence, respect, and humility, the many other lifeforms with whom we share this beautiful planet.
Wobbling on thin little legs, the tiny fawn nuzzled its mother. It stumbled off a few feet, lost its balance, and then got back up again, looking up to its mother as if for reassurance. The white spots on its fur coat were as bright as the patch of white flowers it had been born into just moments before.
I stood in total awe, watching the newborn take its early steps. Not long after, it began to jump around. It seemed so excited to play, scampering around a tree and then running up and nuzzling its mom. Once it had gotten its mom’s attention, then it was off to scamper around again, sniffing and checking out its surroundings, before quickly returning back to its mama.
After jumping excitedly for a few minutes, the tiny fawn wandered into tall grass, and in a blink of an eye, it had disappeared, completely camouflaged. Apparently newborn fawns rest in tall grass or shrubbery while they wait for the mom to return at a later time. If there are twins, the mom will usually separate them, hiding them while she leaves the area. She does this to minimize attracting potential predators. But she is never very far away, always keeping track of the area. (source)
I’ve been watching the mother deer for months. She was badly injured a while back and has zero use of her right hind leg. She sometimes has had difficulty getting around and moves at a much slower pace than the rest of the herd. I became concerned about her months ago when I realized she would get distressed when she couldn’t figure out how to jump the fences in our neighborhood backyards. Luckily, she’s managed alright, but I didn't know how she would handle being a mom.
Sure enough, a few hours after the mother had left her new fawn in the grass, she returned again, and the baby jumped out of the the grass to greet her. She went right up to nurse and get bathed. To my surprise, another fawn jumped out and ran up to them too! She had had twins!
I have barely been able to take my eyes off of this little family for the last 24 hours. I’ve become completely entranced. I watched for hours as the mom, usually a very docile creature, and by far the slowest and most timid of the herd, had aggressively starting chasing away the other adult deer, trying to move them from the area. I almost forgot she had only three working legs! She was not going to let her injury or her previous tendencies dictate how she would step up as a mother to protect her young. I was very touched by this.
Where I am at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, it seems as if all the animal babies have just arrived! There is a crow's nest at the top of a tall juniper tree, a baby squirrel that has been struggling to find its balance as it attempts to scamper along the fences, and rabbits galore! It can be easy to get so caught up in our human daily tasks, that we forget about the many other animals with whom we share our neighborhoods and land.
These last few days have deeply moved me. Witnessing the love and care of an injured mother, watching the tender moments of the first early steps of new life, and feeling the deep bonds between a mother and her young, have really warmed my heart. I've felt such reverence and respect for all those who mother, of any species. Even if they are injured, even if they were the slowest and most frail of the group, even if they are tired or if they just gave birth, the strength of mothers to persevere and care for and love their young is truly awe-inspiring.
Check out this incredibly sweet and tender footage of a newborn fawn below. This is not my footage, but I thought it captured the preciousness of those early moments. See Steve Fagan's account for more of his videos.
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened.”
~ Anatole France
*The first photo I found on the internet under Creative Commons license. The second one is from my phone. It's a little fuzzy, but you get the idea.