White-tailed Deer

White tailed deer  (Odocoileus virginianus)
White tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

This is one of the white-tailed deer from the herd that routinely spends time foraging in our yard. They love the edge of the pond as it has plentiful grasses and one of their favorite treats – yellow nut-sedge. This year the herd totaled four; two older does, a yearling, and one fawn. The herd is most frequently seen at dawn and dusk but can be present  any time of day.  This summer they usually could be seen at mid-day during the hottest days of July and August. The abundant shade and food makes our back yard a preferable place to nap and eat (especially when the apple tree is loaded with fruit).

White tailed deer hanging out by the apple tree in the back yard
White tailed deer hanging out by the apple tree in the back yard

Some interesting facts about the deer:

  • They have hollow strands of hair that help them remain insulated from extremes of temperature and also prevent them from drowning
  • Since fawns do not have a scent, they remain undetected by the enemies – this is often why a doe will leave a fawn unattended in a shady/wooded place (or even in your back yard)
  •  There is only species of deer in which the female also has antlers, the Reindeer (Caribou). The male deer or “stag” sheds their antlers every year
  • Deer can be found on all continents, except Antarctica and Australia
  • The origins of the name come from the Middle English word ‘der’ meaning beast and  from the Old English word ‘dor’
  • They have a four chambered stomach that allows them to digest tough plant foods.  Deer will eat quickly without much chewing and will later, as they rest, cough it up (regurgitate) and chew it
  • Exceptional jumpers, they can clear an 8-foot hurdle from a standing position
  • They are excellent swimmers and have been clocked at speeds up to 13 miles per hour
  • White-tailed deer are known to eat over 600 species of plants in North America
  •  Their long noses possess an intricate system of nasal passages with millions of  receptors (up to 297 million). By comparison, dogs have 220 million and humans just 5)
  • They lick their nose to keep it moist. This allows odor particles to stick to it which improves their sense of smell