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AMATEURS GUIDE: Flying squirrels can be trained, not born

Twin fawns are the norm in well-nourished populations of white tail deer. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

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We got to discussing deer this week around the office. I always interrupt my colleagues to see my nature photos. They politely oblige, even when I shoot blurry images that look as if they came out of a 1960s rock poster.

But the crux of the conversation was how many twin fawns everybody has seen this summer, so I started looking into it.

Upon reading the bible (Field & Stream) it sounds like in well-nourished populations of white tail deer, twins are actually more prevalent than single births.

And those of us with gardens know how well our local deer eat. They've been particularly voracious lately, even chomping down the geraniums and marigolds. Is nothing sacred?

According to F&S, deer are genetically wired in tough times to bear only one fawn when food is scarce. Twins are actually conceived more than 50 percent of the time.

The problem with deer twins becomes their survival. There are two time as many little ones vulnerable to coyotes, wolves and other predators. That decreases the survival rate.

If anyone has seen a wobbly fawn crossing a roadway, you know their running skills aren't fully developed at birth. It's the opposite of the old adage "you can run but you can't hide."

With fawns all they can do is blend with the scenery.

Anyway, it's nice to see sets of twins this late in the season and we hope they make it through their first winter.


Stan Gardinich in Becida reports seeing a flying squirrel the other morning. He says he's had them around for the past two decades.

Stan, I'm training an entire troupe of flying squirrels. Right now they're grays. As soon as I exit my house screaming at them to get off the squirrel-proof birdfeeder, they fly to the nearest tree, sometimes bridging a 10-foot gap in a single bound. I keep hoping a wicked witch scoops them up on a fly-through.

As always, send your sightings and photos to

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

(218) 732-3364