Judging by some questions we’ve seen on neighborhood listservs lately, it would seem that more people are finding seemingly abandoned fawns in their backyards. Here’s an account of what our Marlene Berlin encountered this time two years ago, when this article first published.
I went out on my deck and found myself staring at a doe with her fawn in the middle of my backyard. The fawn, small though steady on its feet, could not have been cuter.
I started yelling at them. But the doe just stood there until I moved off the deck yelling and clapping my hands to chase them off. The mother slowly lumbered off toward the back of the yard with the small fawn following but stopped near my shed. I continued shouting and finally she jumped the fence separating the yards, but the fawn could not manage it. He wandered around in the back of the yard for a while, then lay down in the ivy and was barely perceptible unless you knew where to look. This happened early in the afternoon.
I kept on checking on the fawn throughout the afternoon, but it stayed in its spot in the ivy. I was concerned the doe had abandoned it. I called the Rock Creek Nature Center, and they informed me that the doe would come back for it and to leave it alone. The last time I looked, before dark, it was still in its ivy hiding place. As I went into the house and locked the door behind me, I hoped the doe would come back for it.
As soon as I got up in the morning, I looked for the fawn. It had moved from its spot in the ivy and was closer to the house. I wondered whether I should feed it. I called the Nature Center again and they assured me that the doe would come back for it. Then I Googled “How to tell if a fawn is abandoned.” The best way to tell is whether it is bleating. This is sure sign that it is distressed. In fact, it looked quite content in its new hiding spot. Only its big ears were visible, moving to the symphony of sounds around it.
I went back out on the deck again to check on it, and discovered the doe had returned. They were standing in almost the same place I had originally seen them, by the dogwood trees. The doe lumbered off to the back of the yard, and I assumed she jumped the fence again, even though this time I did not try to scare her off. Again, the fawn remained, munching on the plants that I had not sprayed… to keep the deer from munching on my plants.
I began to wonder whether my yard had a new guest until it grew big enough to jump the fence.
That very night, the mother decided it was time to leave. My daughter heard some noise in the back, looked out the window and saw them heading toward the front of the yard. The next morning, I checked and the fawn was gone. She must have slipped through the opening between the gate and fence. We will miss this new life in our backyard.