Fawn among the flowers
Veledan, via Commons
A fawn in a forest may look cute but don't be tempted to touch. There will be consequences ...
If you should stumble across this small yet wonderful bundle of life, a tiny baby deer lying curled up in a meadow, please act like Moses confronted with the burning bush. Not that you need to remove your shoes, but you should stop in your tracks immediately and watch it silently from a distance.
Any further approach would mean danger for this little one, and a tenderly meant touch would actually be its death sentence!
This is because the scent of a human, clinging to its delicate young hide, would cause the mother to stay away in fear. Nothing could bring her back to suckle her infant, and it would have to die in misery.
Many people, on seeing such a young fawn lying in a meadow by itself, mistakenly assume that it has been abandoned by its mother. Year in, year out, many young deer die as a result of being handled in ignorance.
In fact, the doe is always in the vicinity of her offspring, even though it appears she has abandoned it. She purposely keeps herself a certain distance away, so that predators might not be alerted to the presence of the helpless infant. She tucks it into this safe hiding place for the first three to five days after birth, until it is old enough to follow her for significant distances.
Why should a wildflower meadow in spring be the most suitable hiding place for a baby deer? Because nowhere else would this motionless little body be less noticeable! Its white-spotted hide becomes ‘optically dissolved’ into the many white spots of countless blossoms on the meadow; a near-perfect camouflage. In any other place, for example in a dark leafy forest glen, its white spots would make it particularly noticeable.
You will never see a mother deer hide her baby in the wrong place—always into the exactly appropriate type of hideaway. It goes without saying, that the behaviour of the infant fawn is also perfectly suited to the whole purpose of the camouflage. As mother withdraws from the scene, baby doesn’t follow but ducks down into the grass and stays motionless, as if it knows that any movement could betray its presence.
The most amazing thing of all is that even the development of this little deer before it is born appears to be totally geared towards this immensely purposeful behaviour of mother and child. The egg cell in the doe’s body may be fertilized in the height of summer, but nevertheless the young embryo, for four or five months, barely grows at all in any noticeable way. However, in the middle of winter it starts to grow in a normal fashion. It’s only through this amazing delay mechanism that the baby deer comes into the world at exactly the right time—in May/June—just when the meadows are in full bloom!
All this marvellous, purposeful interactive programming could not result from evolutionary ‘chance and necessity’. Surely it speaks, instead, of creative design and planning—for those who have eyes to see.
(Translated and adapted from the German by Carl Wieland.)