Photo: Deer caught in the sunlight

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Mark Heatherington writes of this photo of a black-tailed doe (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus):

This catch was so back lit that I was going to delete it. Upon inspection, I was struck at how the back lighting shows how vascular their ears are. The red in the ears is blood. The vascular and large ears are very important in thermoregulation during the warmer months. They function a bit like a car's radiator.

The black-tailed deer is one of nine subspecies of the mule deer. It was first recorded by the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-06. Black-tailed deer live in the temperate coniferous forests along the Pacific coast. These forests are characterized by cool temperatures and lots of rain, but an overall mild climate. Black-tailed deer do not therefore migrate in response to seasonal changes, unlike some of the other mule deer subspecies. Instead, black-tailed deer often spend their entire life in the same general area.


The lovely shot, ears and all, was taken at Emigrant Lake in Oregon's Jackson County.

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