WOODS ‘N’ WATER: The young, the innocent and the (mostly) untouchable

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: The young, the innocent and the (mostly) untouchable


“If you care, leave them there!”

That about says it all when it comes to finding young wildlife.

Admittedly, there is nothing cuter for many species of wildlife than a baby or newborn.

It doesn’t matter birds or animals, this is the time of the year when you will run into baby wildlife critters and, for most people, the first thing they think is that the cute little rascal is lost.

Unfortunately, just about the only time they’re truly alone is if the mother has been killed.

For our feathered friends, this mother bird fatality is usually caused by a common housecat.

Hey, don’t get mad at me. I’m a cat lover. But I also know the damage they can do to both song birds and young wildlife, like cottontail rabbits.

Fawns of the whitetailed deer are another story. When first born, they appear “Bambi like,” and most folks who come upon them figure they are lost and need to be rescued.

Nothing could be further from the truth. When they are first born, although they can move about almost immediately, fawns usually lay motionless in tall grass or brush cover. They virtually have no scent to give their location away to a predator.

The does (mother deer) usually only come to them to nurse them, and then leave them alone to keep them scent-proof from predators.

Over the years, I have come upon a couple of fawns in the wild and found it amazing the way they stay motionless even though I was right up close to them.

One time worth repeating happened when we had our place in New York state. I was using a scythe to keep one of the trails on our land open and, as I made my way up the trail, something caught my eye.

Upon further investigation, I found a fawn deer, curled up as cute as can be in the tall grass. It never made a move even though I was up close and personal.

My first instinct was to run back to my truck and get my camera. Then I listened to what I am always preaching to you my readers. “If you care, leave them there.”

I went on up the trail doing my weed whacking. After about an hour, I came back down the trail and, lo and behold, the cute little critter was gone!

Mom must have come and got it. For all I know, she could have been close by, nervously waiting for me to leave the area.

While young wildlife now being born seem to have a natural inbred instinct for survival, this is not always the case, especially when it comes to vehicular traffic on our back roads and highways.

Last year, by the retaining wall on River Road that runs alongside the Quinnipiac River, I had a young fawn jump out into the road in front of me. I came to a stop and watched as it crossed to the river. A doe was waiting there for it in the wooded underbrush.

I was quite pleased with myself for not hitting the little critter, but that did not last long. The next day, I saw a dead fawn lying along the roadside in about the same spot.

Yes, I am a hunter and I do like to feast on wild game, including deer, but to see them slaughtered on our highways, many times left to die a slow, lingering death because the driver kept going, just does not seem right to me.

One year, when we had our place in New York state, Edna and I counted 29 dead deer on the highways between our place in New York and the Connecticut border. Half of them were fawns and a couple of times it was a double, with both the doe and the fawn being taken out!

But it is not only young deer that are affected by well-meaning people. Baby birds that fall out of the nest become prey for house cats. If you can, put them back in the nest. Human scent will not scare off the mother bird.

However, I do urge you to use caution when putting a baby bird back in its nest. Many years ago, when we were kids, my brother Pete found a baby blue jay that had evidently fallen from its nest high up in a pine tree in our yard on Hanover Road.

Pete gallantly decided that he would climb the pine tree and put the baby blue jay back in its nest. For a young kid, his intentions were honorable, and he figured that this would calm down the mother blue jay screaming at us as Pete held the baby bird in his hand.

Pete went up the tree. Just as he reached out to put the baby blue jay back in its nest, both parent jays decided to attack him by making swiping pecks on his head.

This caused Pete to lose his grip in the branches, and he stared a rapid descent bouncing from one limb of the tree to another until he crashed to the ground.

Fortunately, other than a few scrapes and bruises as well as a bruised ego, brother Pete was none the worse for wear, but he learned the hard way about being too kind to some wildlife.

Take it from those that know: “If you care, leave them there!”

Volunteers needed

There will be a work party headed by Ag Science educator Emily Picard and her team of students in an effort to remove the highly invasive Water Chestnut spreading over the Quinnipiac River and Hanover Pond once again this summer.

The QRWA is asking for volunteers to see if anyone would like to help in this worthy project. The work is done mostly from boats and the QRWA has a limited number available for volunteers. Volunteers willing to bring their own boats would be greatly appreciated.

There is also a need for some volunteers to work on land overseeing and organizing bags.

The first date is June 23. If you are interested in volunteering, you are asked to please RSVP by email at qrwainfo@att.net.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters, and first responders wherever they may be serving our great country.

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