Timing can be everything. After work today I took a long detour on the way to the store to bird my swamps near the Des Plaines.  I had a pretty good outing, spotting some Wood Ducks, a Green Heron, and small gang of Waxwings near the river.  The best was yet to come.  

I travelled north on Thatcher when a doe and tiny fawn jumped out from the woods towards the houses on the east side. Mama trotted across, but the fawn stumbled on the pavement, it’s wobbly legs gave out momentarily. Fortunately all the traffic stopped and gave way while the fawn doubled back to the shoulder and dropped like a rock into the tall grasses on the shoulder of the road.

I thought I saw where it was, so I pulled over and dug the camera out of my backpack. I walked as slowly and quietly as I could hoping to see the fawn. I walked right past him at first. I thought maybe he’d scooted away, but as I turned back towards my truck, there he was. It never fails to amaze me how tan and white spots can blend seamlessly into green grass.

The little fawn and I stared at one another, and I’m not sure who was more surprised. Well, I have to guess that he was. After all, he’d just nearly gotten run over and separted from Mom. The moment held long enough for me to get but one shot – and he wisely jumped back and away into the woods, ending his traumatic afternoon with the likes of man.    

Good for him. He did just what a fawn should: dropped, hid, escaped. I have been around enough deer to know that mom will recover her wayward fawn soon enough. I have seen dozens of deer in Thatcher Woods over the years, and hopefully I will see this one again. 

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Dave Coulter

I have been a horticulturist for thirty years working in the Chicago area and beyond. I have lived in Oak Park for over thirteen years. My writing has recently appeared in the journal Ecological Restoration...