Al Batt: How old do deer fawns need to be before they can learn to walk?

Published 9:00 am Saturday, June 8, 2019

Al Batt of Hartland is a member of the Albert Lea Audubon Society. Email him at

My neighbor Crandall stops by.

“How are you doing?” I ask.

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“Everything is nearly copacetic. I haven’t eaten any black jelly beans or eye of newt recently and the zombies have left me alone. I have a diversified investment portfolio — debt and lottery tickets. I went to Mel’s Repair, where all cars will be Mel adjusted. It was Brake Pad Day. That’s quite a celebration. Mel talked me into joining Bump Whistlebritches in entertaining at The Home. I played my guitar and yodeled a bit. Afterwards, I talked to a lady there who was ailing. I told her that I hoped she’d get better. She replied, ‘I hope you get better, too.’”


In the dooryard, I watched warblers feed on caterpillars feeding on leaflets as toads trilled the background music. I appreciated the blooms of wild plum, lilac, serviceberry (Juneberry), cherry and crabapple. I saw the silken nests of eastern tent caterpillars in the forks of the branches of apple, chokecherry, crabapple, plum and cherry trees in May and June. The larvae feed on leaves, sometimes defoliating trees, but generally don’t affect tree health. The hairy larvae have blue, black and orange markings, a white stripe down the back, and a series of hairs sticking out from the sides of their bodies. Two inches long when fully grown, eastern tent caterpillars feed on tree leaves during the day and remain in their tents at night and during rainy weather.

A catbird, slim and slate-gray, produced jumbled songs that mimicked other birds. I heard a robin caroling. Donald Kroodsma, in his book “The Singing Life of Birds,” wrote, “Anyone who listens thoughtfully to robins can’t help but bubble with questions about why robins are the way they are.” Kroodsma found that each male robin has 10 to 20 different, whistled “caroling” phrases and 75-100 varied, high-pitched “hisselly” phrases. The familiar daytime song consists of caroling phrases that sound like, “Cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up.” At dawn and dusk, the bird often tosses in hisselly phrases.

I watched an American redstart female gather plant fibers for nesting material along Albert Lea Lake. A boy told me redstarts were junior orioles. A correspondent from Mankato told me about a shopper at Aldi’s who had bought three cases of grape jelly. The orioles in that person’s neighborhood were eating well.

I attended an outdoor church service at a state park when a hooded warbler landed on one of the pews. It was the first time I’d gone to church with a hooded warbler. Hallelujah!

The gnats have been terrible. Vanilla extract or vanilla essentials oil seem to repel the little buggers. Some people mix it with water and use it in a spray bottle. The gnats will leave you alone, but people will be attracted to you because they think you’ve been baking.

I watched birds at Myre-Big Island State Park, Afton State Park, Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, Cheyenne Bottoms, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, Hamden Slough National Wildlife Refuge, Switzer Ranch, Buffalo River State Park, Geneva Lake, Bluestem Prairie Scientific and Natural Area, Rasmussen Woods, Albert Lea Lake, Steinberg Nature Center, Walnut Lake State Wildlife Management Area, etc. I birded so much, I feel incomplete without binoculars hanging around my neck.


Harp Bartness of Hartland asked how old a fawn is before it can walk. Fawns are able to stand within 10 minutes of birth and can walk in 7 hours. They are left alone daily while their mothers go off  to forage. Fawns stay with their mother through the winter.

Daniel Otten of Hayward asked what birds feed on orange halves.

Baltimore orioles, gray catbirds, red-bellied woodpeckers, brown thrashers, scarlet tanagers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, house finch and others.

Customer comment

Mark Christenson of Columbia Heights wrote, “When the Smothers Brothers were on TV, they had Pat Paulsen as a candidate for the presidency. His best line was, ‘I’m not right winged or left winged, I’m kind of like I’m in the middle of the bird.’”

Pelican Breeze

Please join me as I host cruises on Albert Lea Lake on the prepossessing Pelican Breeze boarding at Frank Hall Park Boat Landing in Albert Lea. The cruises are at 1:30 p.m. June 23, July 28, August 25 and September 29. For more information, call 507-383-7273.

Thanks for stopping by

“I should dearly love that the world should be ever so little better for my presence. Even on this small stage we have our two sides, and something might be done by throwing all one’s weight on the scale of breadth, tolerance, charity, temperance, peace, and kindliness to man and beast. We can’t all strike very big blows, and even the little ones count for something.”  Arthur Conan Doyle

“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.” — Hal Borland

Do good.