Thursday, October 28, 2010

black-tailed deer ~ 10/28/10 ~ at home

Columbian black-tailed deer
Odocoileus hemionus columbianus

It seems that all the fashionable nature blogs are featuring deer this fall season, so I thought I'd join in on the game.

Does and fawns are regular visitors, but this is the first time we've ever seen a full-grown buck on our side of the Monterey Peninsula, let alone in our driveway in the 4 1/2 years we've lived here. The horned fellas usually seem to stay on the ocean side around Asilomar and Del Monte Forest, where there are reports of a pet-eating mountain lion every few years. In fact, some people put up posters in their yard saying, "Go away, mountain lion!" as if the big cat could read sharpie and crayola home-made signs. OK, I live in a funny, little town.

This guy looks kind of young, no? The sun was just coming up, so my pics are a bit dark. Plus, I wasn't too eager to head down the stairs to get a closer look and collect greens for my caterpillars, as I've heard the bucks can attack women unprovoked. It's probably local lore, yet I wasn't about to take my chances.

I believe I have finally correctly ID'd this local deer down to subspecies. According to the USGS, there are 11 subspecies of Odocoileus hemionus. For a nice summary of black-tailed deer by Keith Smith, click on the scientific name above. There's much debate about names and subspecies. Mule deer seems to be a generally accepted common name for O. hemionus. I still don't quite understand the antler descriptions between the species/subspecies, but I picked pics to show off this fella's antler shape and huge ears. Interesting to note for those of you not from around here, the common North American white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is apparently not found in California. I'd appreciate hearing if anyone knows of better information.

ps 11/21/10 - For more information on male mule deer, check out this blog post from It's Time to Live. They definitely look different than what's around here.