Today, during my morning walk, I came across a whitetail doe and fawn grazing in a field in front of a house. When the mother saw me she started to run to the right, the fawn being rather young ran to the left and I froze because I wanted to see how this was going to play out. About 100 feet from where they started, both stopped and noticed the other was missing.
While watching me, the mother started to talk to the fawn. I grew up with whitetail deer all my life, but had never heard them make a sound. I am not attempting to put human qualities to animals as frankly I have butchered and eaten them. As a matter of fact, I served ground venison at my son’s fifth birthday party and we called it “Bambi Burgers” after the movie. If it’s any consolation to my vegetarian readers, I never killed a deer but as a country boy in my youth, was an expert at processing road kill. But back to our current story.
The sound of the talking fearful mother was hardly melodious; it was more like the cross between a sneeze and the sound a crow would make. Regardless of what it sounded like to me, the fawn stopped and waited while the mother retraced her tracks coming towards me and then crossed in front of the house to join her fawn. Since she did not perceive me to be a threat they calmly walked into the woods together.
This is the second time I have experienced a mother’s love in the animal kingdom and the first episode was even more profound. I live in a house with lots of glass windows many open most of the time. Over the years I have gotten used to two sounds from the windows that need immediate attention. One set of sounds that a bird makes is when it gets in and cant get out. For the most part after opening all doors and windows, I can shoe the bird out before it kills itself flying into a closed window.
The other sound is birds flying full speed into the windows making a characteristic thunk. In these cases I pay attention to dispose of the dead bird so it doesn’t create a bigger problem after being neglected. I have picked up mostly ground doves and yellow birds both of which I have in abundance around my house.
One day after hearing the characteristic thunk I opened a door to look. When I got outside I saw a yellow bird crying in pain with her right wing extended. My first instinct was that she was hurt and I really had no idea what I was going to do. Caring for a hurt bird is not something I have ever done and I do not have money to waste taking it to a vet.
The bird lay there singing her very sad song as I approached her trying to make up my mind what to do. She finely heard me or sensed my presence as she became quiet and took off like a shot. It seems that her stretched out right wing and sad song was devoted to one of her off springs that had just flown into my window while learning to fly. The poor momma was grieving and with her sad song trying to raise the dead.
So yes, I now believe that birds grieve and deer talk.