A Fawn on the Lawn


Everyone loves summer! School’s out and warm weather is here. It’s the season of lazy days around the swimming pool, cookouts and family getaways.

Summer may be vacation time for us, but it’s one of the busiest times of the year for wildlife, especially Cincinnati’s largest mammal, the white-tailed deer. In our area, does (female deer) give birth between late May and mid-July. Although twins are most common, a doe can have triplets or even quadruplets!

Photo courtesy of normanack on Flickr

Photo courtesy of normanack on Flickr

Fawns are literally “born to run,” entering world with eyes wide open and the ability to walk almost instantly. For the first 7–14 days, the baby’s instincts tell it to freeze. Its beautiful spotted coat acts as camouflage, breaking up the fawn’s outline and making it harder for predators to see. During this time a doe will “park” her fawn in a sheltered place while she forages for food.

The doe will return several times to the fawn’s hiding place, allowing it to nurse or to move it if necessary. Normally we never see mother or baby, but as deer populations increase and greenspace dwindles, urban whitetails may choose our backyards, a roadside ditch or even a spot underneath a trampoline for a nursery.

Great Parks receives many calls asking what to do about supposedly orphan fawns. After all, when we stumble across one of the cutest baby animals in nature (with no mother in sight), it is easy to assume the little critter has been abandoned.


Photo courtesy of ODNR

If you find a fawn on your lawn, the best thing to do is leave the baby where it is. Keep pets and children inside, and resist the urge yourself to go and check on the fawn. The mother will not make an appearance while people or animals are nearby, as this could alert potential predators to her baby’s location. But rest assured, the doe will return before too long to reclaim the youngster.

For more information on how to deal with injured or truly orphaned wild animals, visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website.

Angela Marczi, Naturalist, Sharon Woods