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Behaviour of Red Deer (Cervus Elaphus L.) At Calving Time

In: Behaviour
Authors:
T.H. Clutton-Brock Ethology and Neurophysiology Group, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton, England

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F.E. Guinness Ethology and Neurophysiology Group, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton, England

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Abstract

Red deer on the Isle of Rhum (Inner Hebrides) show a well defined calving peak in late May and early June. Just before calving, hinds leave their usual social groups and move away from areas of high population density. Calves spend most of the day lying away from their mothers and are visited at intervals. During these visits, mothers show increased vigilance and flight distance from observers. When disturbed close to their lying calves, hinds are unwilling to approach the calf's position and may move the calf to a new area during the following 24 hours. Calves select their lying position with care, preferring to lie in long vegetation in places where they are sheltered from sight and can see the ground in front of them. All these behaviour patterns change during the first four weeks after parturition. The behaviour of hinds breeding for the first time differs little from that of experienced mothers.

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