Deer giving birth is an amazing event in nature. If you’ve ever wondered what time of day deer tend to deliver their fawns, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: deer usually give birth in the early morning hours right before dawn.

When Deer Reach the End of Gestation

Gestation Period for Deer

The gestation period for deer varies by species, but generally ranges from 180-240 days (around 6-7 months). For white-tailed deer, specifically, gestation lasts about 200-210 days or around 28-30 weeks. This long period allows the fawn time to fully develop before entering the world.

The doe’s body goes through many changes during this timeframe to help the fawn grow.

In the last month of gestation, the fawn will grow rapidly, nearly doubling its weight. The doe’s belly and udder will expand considerably to make room for the growing fawn. Her hips and rear legs may appear sunken as the fawn drops lower in preparation for birth.

It’s an uncomfortable time for the expectant doe as she patiently awaits the big day.

Signs that a Deer is Ready to Give Birth

As the doe nears the end of gestation, she will begin exhibiting common pre-labor behaviors and physical changes:

  • Restlessness – The doe may seem agitated and have difficulty getting comfortable as contractions start
  • Increased urination – Her expanding uterus puts pressure on her bladder
  • Engorged udders – Milk production ramps up to feed the fawn after birth
  • Discharge of mucus – The cervix dilates and she loses the mucus plug over the birth canal
  • Sunken hips/rear – The fawn drops lower in the birth canal
  • Isolation – She withdraws to a secluded place to give birth alone

When a doe disappears and is later spotted with 1-2 fawns, it’s a good sign she has given birth overnight! The miracle of life continues as 80-90% of pregnancies result in healthy twin fawns for the white-tailed deer (source).

The new family will remain secluded until the fawns strengthen and can travel with the herd.

Environmental Factors Influencing Birthing Time

Protection from Predators

Deer tend to give birth at night or in the early morning hours when it is cooler and darker. This provides added protection from predators that are less active at night. Newborn fawns lack the speed and stamina to flee from predators, so being born at a time when coyotes, bears, and other predators are less likely to be hunting gives them a better chance of surviving their first few weeks of life.

Under the cover of darkness, fawns can lay very still and remain undetected until they gain strength and can better escape danger. Their spotted coats also provide camouflage when lying on the forest floor. Deer have evolved to give birth at night for maximum safety of their vulnerable young.

Benefits of Cooler Temperatures

In addition to avoiding predators, cooler nighttime temperatures are easier for newborn deer to regulate their body heat. Fawns do not have the ability to control their internal temperature for the first week or two of life.

If they are born during the heat of midday, they could easily succumb to hyperthermia. Being born when temperatures drop after sunset allows newborns to avoid overheating as they gain the strength and energy to keep up with the herd.

It also avoids the risk of sun exposure and sunburn on delicate new skin. Deer instinctively seek the coolest part of the day to give birth for the well-being of their fawns. Generally between midnight and 6 am is the optimal window for deer to welcome their young when conditions are most favorable.

Research by wildlife biologists has shown that over 80% of deer births occur between 9pm and 6am, with the peak birthing period being around midnight to 2am. Cool, dark early morning hours provide the best environment for survival of newborn fawns.

Deer have adapted their birthing patterns over thousands of years to maximize the safety and health of their offspring.

The Birthing Process

Natural Instincts to Find a Birthing Site

When a female deer is ready to give birth, her natural instincts kick in to find a safe and secluded birthing site. This is an essential part of the process, as the doe needs privacy to reduce the risk of predators discovering her vulnerable newborn fawns.

Generally, the doe will separate from the herd and seek out areas with dense vegetation or brush several days before going into labor. She may also find a depression in the ground, hollow log, or area near a tree to use as a nest.

The birthing site needs to be hidden from view to protect the newborns.

Stages of Labor

Once the doe finds a suitable birthing location, she goes through three main stages of labor, similar to other mammals. In the first stage, the cervix dilates and contractions begin to push the fawn into position. This stage can last 6-12 hours as the doe’s body prepares for active labor.

In the second stage, stronger contractions move the fawn through the birth canal, which may take another 1-3 hours. Finally, during the third stage, the doe delivers the placenta. Overall, labor lasts anywhere from 8-15 hours for a deer.

It is amazing that the doe’s body knows exactly when and how to go through this process naturally with no guidance. Their natural maternal instincts give them the ability to find the perfect birthing spot and care for their young after a successful delivery.

Care of Newborn Fawns

In the first few weeks after giving birth, the doe is very protective of her fawns. She keeps them hidden in vegetation and only visits them a few times a day for nursing. The fawns rely on their camouflage and inability to smell for protection.

The doe licks the fawns clean immediately after birth to remove scent that could attract predators.

For nutrition, the fawns only need their mother’s milk for the first 60-75 days of life. The rich milk allows them to grow quickly from a birth weight of 4-8 pounds to about 50 pounds before weaning. By remaining hidden, the fawns can avoid predators and put all their energy into healthy development.


In summary, deer tend to give birth in the early morning hours right before daylight due to a combination of natural protective instincts and environmental factors.

Understanding the deer birthing process and the special considerations does face can give you a deeper appreciation of these amazing creatures.

Similar Posts