A Deer’s Ears: A Natural Satellite Dish

Leisurely wondering the sidewalks and paths of Wolf Road Prairie, you might be lucky and encounter a deer. If the deer is at a safe distance from you, chances are that the deer will hold its ground, steadily staring right at you. Maybe it is sizing you up, perhaps it is just curious. Such an encounter allowed photographer Vito Martinez to capture the beautiful dignity of this Wolf Road Prairie deer. Notice the size of its ears and their taunt alert position. Those attractive looking ears are part of the deer’s defense mechanisms.

The next time you spot a deer at a distance, one that is not paying any attention to you, throw a small object to the left or right of the deer. Standing still, the deer will rotate its flexible ears independently of one another without moving its head. These large funnel shaped ears can effectively scan the air, tuning into sounds all around it. This enables them to pinpoint both the distance and direction of a sound with amazing accuracy. Hunters believe it is the out-of-place sound for which the deer are listening. They will ignore the familiar sound of a squirrel or a raccoon. Field studies have led naturalists to theorize that it is also an effective way for the deer to keep tract of one another. If that is true, then the noises they make while moving around is their own form of Twitter.

Reference: University of Georgia’s Forestry Service 2018.