Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Tables are Turned

I went out this morning to let the chickens out into their run and feed the deer, as I do every morning.
It was 7:30 and the sun was well up.  It was daylight.
The deer often come in waves from their various sleeping locations, so it's not unusual to see a latecomer.
As I stood filling the watering tubs, something in my pasture caught my eye.
Another deer, I presumed.

Boy was I ever wrong.
It was coyote!
Something had obviously spooked him, because he was at a full gallop and didn't even cast us a sideways glance.
photo credit: http://natureofframingham.blogspot.com/
What happened next was the astonishing thing.
Instead of being afraid of a predator in their space, three deer headed in the direction of the coyote.
They ran several hundred yards toward where he'd gone, stopped for a few minutes and then returned to the herd.
There are no fawns to protect.  Their behavior didn't make any sense.
I couldn't really comprehend what I'd seen.

Even more strange, when I was looking for a photo of a coyote to put in this post (I didn't have my camera), I came across the picture you see above.
The woman who caught this, in a series of photos, had the exact thing happen! 
 Her deer are mule deer and much larger than my whitetails, but still.
What causes the predator/prey model to be turned on its head?
I'll be spending more time visiting with Google about it.
It fascinates me.

8 comments:

  1. This is almost unbelievable. I guess you'd have to see it to believe it. I followed the link you gave and then Googled deer chasing coyote. There are videos out there of it happening. I live in a normal subdivision in the St. Louis area and we see deer regularly. Today 5 of them ran out of the woods behind the house, across the yard and past the house to cross the street. I didn't see if they were chasing something or if something was chasing them. I found your blog by following you from Carson's 7MSN blog and am one of many who are in awe of you for being a ranch sitter when you didn't know her personally. I love your blog; I went back in time, reading past entries in order to get to know you better. I love your photos and the stories you share. I'm now one of your followers!

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    1. Hi Peg, Welcome. :)
      It was so nice to finally meet Carson in person after being friends with her for 5 years. I do liken it to being pen pals from days past.

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  2. Just when we think we understand Nature we find all kinds of exceptions to the "rules." I don't know if you've seen the "Chicken Police" Youtube video but it is another one of weird animal behavior.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRIOwv6TDm4

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    1. I had forgotten about that video. I saw it once before and was astounded at the interaction/behavior of the chickens. Nature is far more complex than we humans think we know.

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  3. That is really unbelievable. Keep us posted on what you find out about this unusual behavior.

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    1. I will. So far everything I've read is that coyotes are seldom a threat to grown deer. I've also seen several videos of deer chasing coyotes. Who knew??

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  4. You know...I think we only know the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the why's of animal behavior! Those darned coyotes...we have a couple hanging around our farm (at least I have heard this...but have not personally seen them) Pennsylvania coyotes are smaller than yours...just a little bigger than a fox...but just as undesirable. Especially for those of us with chickens!!

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    1. I would be a much happier chicken and cat owner if our coyotes were that small. Ours can weigh up to 50lbs and often make off with house pets and livestock.

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