Ask The Biologist

The Early Bird

The Early Bird

By Bob Humphrey

Seeing a fawn in May is unusual, but not out of the question.

QUESTION: I live in upstate New York. A friend claims he recently saw a newborn fawn, but that seems quite early. I wouldn’t expect them to be born for at least another month. When are fawns typically born in New York?

ANSWER: A lot depends on your geographic location, but because you’re in a northern state, it’s fairly easy to determine average birth dates. According to Buckmasters’ Annual Rut Calendar, peak breeding dates in New York occur in mid November (that’s as detailed as the NYDEC could provide). So, let’s call it November 15. Now add the typical gestation period of 200 days, and you end up around June 18.

However, it’s important to note these are averages and peaks. Moving away from the peak dates in either direction you will find increasingly fewer instances, but always a few. With peak breeding occurring in mid November, there could be a few does coming into estrus and being bred a month or more earlier, thus giving birth a month earlier the following spring.

Any does not bred will cycle again roughly 28 days later, and again 28 days after that (if they still haven’t become pregnant). In extremely healthy herds, some fawns breed in their first fall, which usually occurs during the later or so-called second rut.

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