Visiting with Bambi in the backyard

Published 5:04 pm Wednesday, August 9, 2017


By RENE’ DAY / Community Columnist

It has often been mentioned that one of the best things about living in our county is the diversity we find here. Diversity in our wonderful population, diversity in the places we go, and diversity in the places we eat and the things we do. Recently, however, the folks in my suburban neighborhood had a chance to experience diversity of another kind when a “deer” little visitor dropped in.

You don’t often see a fawn carefully shuffling along on new, untested legs. The sight is both fascinating and heart-rending. And, so it was with little “Bambi” in the backyard. How could something so unsteady make it to the safety of the tree line? Where was the mother? How long had it been alone? The fawn finally made it to the apparent safety of a large Virginia Sweet Spire bush and settled in underneath the branches. Relief quickly turned back to concern when we remembered the abundance of friendly, inquisitive dogs who permanently reside in the neighboring yards. Would it be safe? Could it eat on its on? And, where WAS its mother? What are you supposed to do when a tiny, baby deer ventures into the yard?

Fortunately, we don’t need an app for that kind of information.  We have the Alabama Wildlife Center located at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham. Did you know that it is Alabama’s oldest and largest wildlife rehabilitation center? And, while they primarily work with injured and orphaned wild birds, there is help and advice for any type of “wild” situation in which you might find yourself. We quickly called the center’s help line (205-663-7930, ext 2). Turns out, “deer” little visits around this time in the summer aren’t so unusual after all. And, when you find a wildlife baby, you can’t assume that it has been abandoned.  The Wildlife Help Line expert explained that the mother was probably feeding nearby. Fawns have no fear of humans and will often venture too close for a mother’s comfort. The key is to leave the fawn alone – don’t touch it, don’t try to pet it, don’t feed it, and don’t try to turn it into the star of a family Disney moment. Leave it alone. When it’s time to eat – the mother will call and the fawn will find her.

Sure enough, it turns out that the wildlife folks knew exactly what they were talking about. We took photos of our guest, but nothing more. The humans were soon distracted with other tasks and lost track of time. By late afternoon, the fawn had disappeared from its “nest” under the shrub with no signs of it anywhere.

However, the very next morning, there was a beautiful mama doe having breakfast in the next yard. I guess she likes a Shelby County neighborhood for raising a family too.