Fern and the Speckled Fawns

Fern watching over her fawns from South Bank

Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.  —Author Unknown

June was a fantastic month for wildlife. I can’t remember when it was so good. There were night visits from the resident black bear, and morning visits from coyote. Afternoons buzzed with small swarms of native California mason bees—a first for our woods. There were more birds than usual, and don’t even get me started about the woodpeckers. Their numbers (pardon the pun) soared. From May through July, downy, hairy, pileated woodpeckers, and flickers, first adults and then fledglings, feasted on suet; two cakes every three days. 

I feel a special kinship with the wildlife in these woods. I’m a person who talks to animals. All except for the black bear, which I must be loud, and try to intimidate. Otherwise, my tone is gentle. I talk to the shrew-moles that sift through dead leaves, and the raccoons that visit almost nightly. I say, “Good night” to Eddie, the little brown bat that sleeps above the carport door, and “Good morning” to the jays that tap at the back door for want of peanuts; a want that is always granted. 

It was March that I noticed our beautiful black-tailed doe, Fern, was expecting. During the winter, she and her yearling, also a doe, and that we named Fawna, spent the winter with us. Through the winter, they devoured several hundred pounds of cracked corn; a small economical price for such enchanting company.

In twenty years of forest living, and having encountered numerous does, bucks, and yearlings, I thought it strange we had never seen a speckled fawn in these woods. So I told Fern that I would love to meet her new family, and to bring them for a visit. That was the last I saw her.

Speckled fawns first visit
Speckled fawn sees its first human

In June, when I had about given up on ever seeing her again, she returned with two, darling, speckled fawns. They stood on South Bank, at the back of the house. So small were the speckled fawns that the giant sword ferns hid them quite well. Concealment is part of Natures plan, critical for their survival, and for the next three to four months, those white speckles will help them blend with their surroundings. The fawns looked at me with adorable curiosity, which suggested I was likely their first human. It was quite an honor. Looking into those big bright eyes filled of curiosity, timidness, and innocence, my heart melted. Our visit was all too short, and as they headed out for the evening, I congratulated Fern, and thanked her for visiting.

The second visit up close

Two days later they were back. It was as if Fern wanted to make sure that I got a good look at the twins. This second meeting happened in the front woods where they came walking right up. The fawns seemed more curious than before, but kept close to their mother. I knew Fern trusted me, yet to be so close to such wonderful creatures was a most amazing gift. Up close, the speckled fawns looked even smaller; their expressions truly precious, a moment I will never forget.

Goodbye for now

They stayed longer on their second visit, and for that I was grateful. I said goodbye to Fern, and the speckled twins that leaped gleefully behind their mother through the overgrown drain field that led to the driveway, and onto the graveled road. As they moseyed on down the road, I couldn’t help wonder if Fern understood my request back in March asking to meet her new family. Coincidence? Probably, but I would like to believe otherwise.

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