The Young and the Vulnerable

2015 is on its last hours.  The sun is retreating for the last time in 2015 making way for a night of celebration as we bring in 2016.  All things considered, I will not miss this year very much and more than relieved to let this year go thanks to a myriad of tough times from family medical discoveries, work stress and the loss of our beloved Kerby.  There were some bright spots like the running production, additions to the bird count and a number of projects I’ve shared throughout the course of the year which will likely be touched up on in my year in review post.  Thought I’d close out this year with a topic I set up from the last post.  Babies!

Pronghorn shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

The Buffalo young carry with them a certain amount of … ummm let’s go with size.  That size gives them a definite advantage in the endless struggle for survival in the wild.  That also means they are surrounded by even larger mothers and fathers capable of inflicting serious paybacks should any predator decide to test their skills.  This is a stark contrast to the life of a Pronghorn.

Pronghorn shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

Hit the jump to see more pictures of the Pronghorn doe and her two cute newborns.

The baby Pronghorn pictured here are likely very new additions to the family.  They mate in mid-September and have a 7-8 month gestation period.  The fact we spotted them in May indicates they at most they are a week or two old – likely less.  Unlike the Bison, the Pronghorn newborns weigh in at a paltry 4 to 8 pounds.  No match for the Wolves, Bears and Coyotes that roam the Yellowstone kill zones.  From a protection perspective, their parents have to rely on speed, cunning and outright alertness to counter the numerous dangers that surround them.  In case you are wondering the Pronghorn is tops on the speed scale in the Western Hemisphere ranging in the 35mph for extended distances and up to 55mph for short jaunts (<.5 mile).

This ever-watchful doe spent the entire time on guard – keeping an eye to the West.

Pronghorn shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

Eyes on the North

Pronghorn shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

Eyes on the East
Pronghorn shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

… and eyes on the South.  All while her twins were either taking nourishment or enjoying the many sights and sounds of their new environment.

Pronghorn shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

As far as the mom goes, she was intent on giving her babies the best chance of survival in a hostile environment.  For the most part she let them run and explore as long as they stayed within her safe zone.  The second one of those two babies decided to test their boundaries, she let them know immediately this was unacceptable and either called them back or narrowed the gap herself.

Pronghorn shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

According to our friends over at Wikipedia, fawns interact with their mothers for only 20 to 25 minutes a day.  We were lucky enough to get to witness this infrequent interaction and even get a few pictures.  This is one of those few times when I will not apologize for the softness resulting from having the tele on the Beast.  Don’t get me wrong, they are definitely soft, but if I didn’t have the extender on … there wouldn’t be any shots to post.  This family was spotted a looooong way off in the Yellowstone meadows.  The fact you can make out any shapes at all is a Festivus miracle.  Even with the extra reach I still had to digital crop down to a small portion of the shot to get them sized enough for you to see what was going on! 

Eventually, one of the fawns spotted our location.

Pronghorn shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

This observation was duly noted by the doe who made her own assessment of the situation.

Pronghorn shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

Understandably so, she decided it was best to error on the side of caution and quickly collected her children and pointed them in the direction of safety.

Pronghorn shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

Like well disciplined kids, they heeded their mom’s directions and went about making a quick escape from the potential danger.  If I could only tell them they had nothing to worry from us – it wasn’t like they were moles or something vile like that – nope, just precious fawns with zero interest in ripping up my yard.

Pronghorn shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

By the way, I forgot to mention the best defense these babies have to thwart the perils that await them.  They have a natural camouflage that allows them to blend into their surroundings.  Humans have the ability to discern small differences and can likely spot the fawn below much easier than one of their natural predators could.

Pronghorn shot at Yellowstone National Park in May 2013

If wolves or coyotes are anything like my poodles they probably can’t tell them at all without them moving against the background – rabbits continually point out this canine flaw in our front yard as they’ll just sit there and stare at my dogs and neither of them will detect they are there.  I didn’t find it in the research materials, but somewhere I had picked up that fawns are fairly scent free which would make it even more difficult to locate.

Well, this is the last post of the year.  I’ll save you the math and let you know I met my monthly quota for another year.  I truly appreciate all the time my readers spend on my blog and even taking the time to add your thoughts and comments.  Have a happy and SAFE new year.


2 comments on “The Young and the Vulnerable

  1. Ron

    Cute series of photographs, a little documentary! If that’s all the time a fawn interacts with its parent in a day, you really were lucky to have come across them when you did.

    Our cats have the hardest time seeing a rabbit sitting in our back yard, even with me trying to point their heads at it, until it moves. I wonder how unique our pattern recognition is–somehow I think an Eagle would be able to pick out that bunny whether it was moving or not.

    I feel like you’ve posted twice your monthly quota!! I’ll resist going back and counting, and instead wait for your year-end statistics.

    Here’s to a happy 2016!


  2. admin

    I was shocked to see the small amount of parenting time as well – guessing the doe is off gambling or hanging out at the local bar for the rest of the time. Not only did I luck out seeing them, but the Beast Tele combo was able to get something recognizable in the tin – again, they were a looooong way off. I assumed cats would have the edge on dogs in the whole hunting prey area – apparently not. Keep that in mind – if they come for you at night – just stand there motionless and hope they pass right by – then ask yourself why you are harboring cold blooded killers. (although it is slightly disturbing you are pointing out victims to your cats – evil).

    I made it to 11 (“this amp goes to 11”) – almost twice the quota – just padding my year end stats and getting a lot of the Yellowstone shots out of the way – still have a number of them to go by the way – and yes, the summary is coming

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