13 June 2013
While hiking in the Laurel Highlands last month I heard a hooded warbler alarm call. I looked for the bird and discovered a large deer browsing in the area of the warbler’s voice.
Though I couldn’t see the warbler I knew why he was upset. Deer eat birds’ eggs, baby birds and any small bird that can’t fly away. The deer was a big threat to the hooded warbler’s nest.
Years ago at Powdermill Avian Research Center I learned that deer are one reason they’re careful to quickly retrieve birds from the mist nets. If they delay, deer eat the birds trapped in the nets!
In the video above two parent birds try to drive off a buck who’s browsing in the vicinity of their fledgling. The youngster tries to escape but cannot fly well. The parents’ efforts were not enough. The deer ate their young.
Deer are so omnivorous that trail-cam studies show they’ll readily eat from gut piles and deer carcasses.
Nature is full of surprises. Deer are not vegetarians.
(video from YouTube)