Before I share my most
recent and fascinating discovery with you, I will reveal the awaited answers to
yesterday’s posting about the animal tracks. For those of you who commented and
made guesses, you may have already learned the correct answers in my response
to you. For those of you who didn't comment, the correct answers are as follows: track #1 was a
coyote, track #2 was a bobcat, and track #3 was a Mule Deer. The coyote track
was definitely the most challenging to identify, as the claw marks are not
visible in the photo. The oval shape, however, is a good indicator of a coyote.
The bobcat print is very clear, but many thought it was a bear because it
appeared large. Next time I won’t zoom in so much, because it was not nearly as
large as a bear print! Bear prints also differ slightly in shape. As for the
deer tracks, the great distance between the tracks provides the best evidence
that it was a deer. Mule Deer are amazing jumpers!
Now to get back to my
exciting discovery- deer have beds to sleep in just like humans! They may not
be soft, fluffy mattresses, but they are beds nonetheless. I have stumbled upon three deer bedding
areas since I've been hiking Red Butte Canyon, and I couldn’t resist jumping in one for
a picture today! I even got deer fur on my coat!
As you can see clearly in the picture above on the right, deer create beds in the winter by making oval-shaped depressions in the snow. Although I'm concealing a great deal of the first deer bed, it is evident that both are not in open areas. Deer make their beds in sheltered places for protection from the weather and predators. In the three areas I discovered deer bedding, there were several beds spread out within a cluster of trees. Each deer had its own bed, as they prefer to have their own space when sleeping! The beds were also located on the mid-slope of the mountain, providing further protection from predators who typically hang out along the streams at the bottom.
Based on what you've learned so far about ungulates, do you think that deer sleep more in the winter or in the summer? Please feel free to comment on this blog with your answer, and I will respond with the correct answer and an explanation tomorrow.