Thursday, February 20, 2014

Feeder Deer

My bird feeding activity also attracts some non-bird visitors.  Most conspicuous are the Whitetail Deer.  Deer visit the yard year-round, but their time spent around the feeders increases considerably when the ground is covered by snow and ice.

When not in the yard searching for bits of corn, the deer are usually somewhere nearby in a position to observe my exit from the house.  They associate my presence with the appearance of a corn treat.

A feed bucket in my hand is an invitation for the deer to head for the yard.  Most of these deer first visited the yard as fawns, led by their mothers who were searching for early apples.

It doesn’t take any special skills to discover deer tracks around here.

One young buck developed a taste for sunflower seeds and began waiting beneath the feeder for birds to drop a seed of two.

He kept a close eye on the birds and collected the seeds as soon as they were pushed from the feeder.

His next evolution in seed gathering involved scraping at the feeder pole with his paw.  This maneuver was good for a few seeds, but it also tended to keep the birds away and resulted in a net decrease in seeds obtained.

The scent of the seeds must have been strong.  He would hold this attitude for 20 seconds at a time and then search the ground before once again looking upward.

After a few false starts, he learned that he could get the seeds himself if he held his head beside the feeder and stuck his tongue out to the side.  Judging by the rate at which seed was disappearing, he must have been filling his belly.

He looks awfully pleased with himself.  Shortly after this shot was taken, I built a collar around the base of the feeder that effectively blocks his attempts at obtaining more feed.  I’m wondering how long it will take him to find a way around that. 

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