January 3, 2011

Holiday Party

After every snowstorm I wake to see a vast network of paths cut into the fresh snow in my yard.  The deer crisscross almost every inch of our neighborhood, leaving evidence of their marauding depradations and wandering ways.

It often looks like a railroad station, as if busy commuters rushed every which way all night long, circling back, hurrying forward, and bumping into each other.  I'm amazed I sleep through all this activity.

After the northeast's Christmas blizzard, the deer trails in my yard were evident in the sunshine that followed.  There was still a holiday feeling the air, and it was clear the deer had been there to party.  They had a festive time and found the eats to be quite good.

They started with winterberry treats.  I thought the Ilex verticillata berries were being nipped by the birds, but the mess of hoof marks around each of my four plants, and the fact that there were berries before the storm but few after, shows me the deer are the berry eating culprits.

After stripping the winterberry bushes they skirted the doublefile viburnum (its red berries were long gone before any snow), and headed over to another garden to the left.

There the tracks milled around the thicket of Aronia arbutifolias, where they enjoyed some of the dark red aronia berries.

Only a few are left to decorate a blue winter sky.  They were probably too high to browse.

The deer even seemed to be interested in what is left of the little ornamental pears on the Callery pear tree.  Tracks circled in the snow around the trunk.

After every snowfall the tracks show me how busy my back yard is at night.  The deer have now had their New Year's treat, and very few red berries are left on the shrubs or trees any more.  The holiday is over, the new year has started, and they will be back to stripping branches off my ornamental shrubs, nibbling tree buds, and shredding the holly leaves.

But it looked like they had a good time over the holidays.


  1. Happy New Year Laurrie! You seem to have a very Zen approach to your interloping partiers - it is fun to be able to detect in the snow exactly who is eating what :)

  2. Interesting how changes of weather bring clues as to what's going on...I'm glad you're at peace with your night time visitors ;)

  3. Those deer must be hungry if they're eating Aronia berries.

    I'm sorry that the deer are finding your garden an all-you-can-eat buffet.

  4. Oh, deer. They are browsing the garden of all the new buds. Bad deer, bad deer.

  5. I love analyzing the deer tracks in my garden after a snowfall. Since deer supposedly follow very specific paths, I try to plant any plants with 'questionable' deer resistant far away from the paths.

  6. Well those deer tracks seem to indicate those deer had a fantastic time in your garden! Great shots ... even deer have to eat.

  7. Cyndy, the snow reveals all. I can see everything the critters are up to out there.

    Cat, I am more at peace with the night marauders because I don't see them. If I woke up and caught them out there I'd be rushing outside in my jammies to shoo them away.

    Sweetbay, I was surprised too about the Aronia berries, not usually eaten by the deer. I guess at a party you'll sample anything.

    Donna, bad deer indeed!

    Debbie, They do seem to follow a general direction from east to northwest through my yard, but the tracks are spread out and mill around so much that it's hard to see a real path.

    Bernie, I am glad to hear from you. The news and photos from Queensland are so worrying, such a disaster of floodwaters. You are OK?

  8. Looks like the deer are having a field day in your garden (no pun intended)! I hope they find another food source before they strip too much of your trees and shrubs. Surprisingly, I don't have too much of a deer problem; I don't know if it's because there's always corn remaining in the nearby fields for them or what. But I guess I should be thankful.

    We are also without snow at the moment. I can't see deer or rabbit tracks in my garden, but I've found all of Sophie's toys she left outside before the snowfall:)

  9. Following animal tracks in the snow is also one of my favorite winter activities. My walk in the woods surrounding the house this weekend hinted that more than deer have been busy. I saw tracks of a very large dog or a good sized coyote (none of my neighbors allow thier dogs to roam. I'll have to watch for fresh tracks after the next snow.

  10. Rose, ha! I like the pun about deer having a field day. You've made me consider planting corn if you think that's what might keep them occupied elsewhere.

    Joene, I do see lots of tracks other than deer prints. I love the tiny ones made by birds but couldn't get good photos. You probably do have coyotes around you.

  11. Too bad you don't know some hunters that could thin the herd before they eat your garden. What a party they had.

  12. Lisa, believe me, I've thought about hunters!!

  13. Your garden definitely appears to be party central. This may be a crazy idea, but I am basing the idea on personal experience with squirrels. They used to drive me crazy, knocking down my bird feeders in their efforts to get at the bird seed. So I waved the flag of surrender and put sunflower seeds in a large hanging birdbath. Now, they leave the bird feeders alone. So are you ready for my crazy idea? What would happen if you gave the deers an alternate choice and put out some non-garden type food at the far edge of your property?

  14. Jennifer, I like how you made peace with the squirrels. It's not so crazy to think about that for deer, but feeding 20 large land animals would break the bank I'm afraid. It would be like feeding a herd of horses! In summer I have tried growing garden plants they don't like near the ones I want to protect, and that works (they only eat the "sacrifice" plants) until they get really hungry, then they eat everything! And they change what they prefer from year to year. Give me squirrels any day : )

  15. I love your blog! I am definitely coming back to visit.

  16. Shirley: thanks and welcome!


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