27 Apr 2012 7 Comments
26 Apr 2012 Leave a Comment
I became aware of a group of dogs and their walkers only when this coyote kept looking up in their direction. As the group approached, the coyote moved several times to better and better vantage points, but did not head off. As they got closer, the coyote moved over to patch of grass. He nibbled the grass, almost as a distraction to himself, as he continued to watch the approach of the dog walking group. Was he getting nervous? One might have thought that the coyote would have hurried off rather than stick around. But no — curiosity can be powerful! Finally, when the group was about at the point where they would have been able to see him, the coyote bounded out of sight and out of harms way to a hiding place, where he remained until they passed.
Having avoided detection, and still wanting to watch them, he now ascended to another lookout, one from which he could make an easy getaway should that need arise. He still kept watching them! Was he testing his luck, or testing his ability to not be seen? They continued their walk, descending a path that circled around, and the coyote ran to the other side of the rocks to watch them as they went. The coyote remained undetected until the very end — almost. When the walkers entered a wooded area they could no longer be seen — all except an unruly dog who was lagging far behind. This dog had her eyes and nose out for the coyote — there have been plenty of previous chases by this one. Having caught whiff of the coyote, the dog went after it, and that is when the coyote finally split for good. The chase occurred unbeknownst to the owner who had walked on ahead. I later told her about it.
21 Apr 2012 2 Comments
After hunting for a while this coyote finally disappeared into the brush. I thought that was the end of my observations for the day, but not so. Soon thereafter, two large men and their two large pit bulls appeared from a path close to where the coyote had disappeared. They proceeded down a trail which would lead them out of the park. The coyote then reappeared from the brush, sniffed where this walking group had lingered for a moment, caught sight of them, and then follow them, not too closely, but within eyesight, until they left the park. The dogs and walkers never turned around, so they never saw the coyote, and when they exited the park, the coyote disappeared again into the bushes close to the park’s exit. No one was any the wiser because of this. And that was the end of my observations of that coyote.
Within 10 minutes, there appeared another coyote sniffing around where the first one had first caught whiff of the dogs. This coyote sniffed intently and looked all around, stretching his neck high, but no one was in sight, and maybe the scent of the dogs and the other coyote had begun to dissipate a little because he didn’t seem sure of which direction to follow. He finally made his choice. Instead of following the scent on the trail that led out of the park — the direction the others had gone in — he turned around and retraced the path the dogs had originally come from.
I’m wondering: Did he lose the scent which led out of the park? Or did he mean to retrace the direction from which dogs and coyote had come? Was his interest a curiosity in the dogs or in meeting up with the first coyote? Or, might he have been attempting to assess if the dogs and coyote had had an encounter? We don’t actually know what pheromones and other clues were there for the second coyote to tap into. It’s always fun to try and figure out what these animals are up to!
15 Apr 2012 1 Comment
While sitting in a depression on a rock, I observed and photographed a young coyote. When the coyote moved, I moved away from my perch to get a better angle. Then something kind of fun happened. The coyote walked back over to where I had been perched, looked at me in my new location, as if he were making a connection, and proceeded to intently sniff where I had previously been sitting. He went over the place pretty thoroughly with his nose and then turned to looked at me one more time as if to confirm what he had just found out about me. He then walked off, not even bothering to “mark” or “trump” my scent. I wonder if I don’t count for much!
I’m trying to speculate what kind of information a coyote might have tried to pick up about me? Within their own species various bits of identifying information could be obtained by scent, such as whether male or female, reproductive status or availability, aggressiveness, if it was a juvenile, something about diet. But my being outside of its own species, I wondered what kind of information it might have been looking for? Or, maybe it hadn’t been seeking any particular information, but rather sniffing out any clue which might have revealed a better understanding about me?
As with dogs, coyotes often go over to sniff out where they’ve smelled or seen another dog or coyote. But I’ve not seen dogs perform this ritual on humans.
09 Apr 2012 1 Comment
Several people have told me that their dogs can sense when a coyote is around, even though they had not seen or heard it. Some dog’s smelling is far more acute than others. So, even though most dogs are oblivious, a few dogs will begin acting differently the minute they sense a coyote.
How do the dogs react? They become more alert and uneasy: a heightened awareness and a stronger interest in their surroundings. They’ll begin sniffing for clues and looking about for any signs that might tell them where the coyote is. Finally, the dog may spot the coyote and give chase, or, as I’ve seen with one small dog, it may hug against its owner’s leg for protection! Some dogs think coyotes are like squirrels — objects to be chased. Some dogs think it is their duty to drive a coyote away. And some dogs actually would like to play. Best to keep your dog close and leashed in a coyote area.
04 Apr 2012 1 Comment
Here is a high-pitched, squeaky sort of a howl accompanying a siren. No matter how often one hears these howls, they always are thrilling. The serenade went on for quite some time, but I’ve just posted the first part because the blowing wind began to produce static on the recording. At one point, you’ll hear a dog barking, and the coyote stops to listen for just a second before continuing its own song.
01 Apr 2012 Leave a Comment
Here in LA County my coyote watching continues. The pack I’ve followed for several years has been near their den area after a hiatus of many months. Last year several yearlings stayed with the two I call Mom and Dad, stayed at least through the fall. The two younger coyotes I’ve seen in the last month may be last year’s yearlings, last year’s pups, or both. The coyote sitting is a young one that has stationed itself at the den area entrance. It is helping its parents by its vigilance. The standing coyote barking is its father, Dad.
Dad’s health has improved since last summer. He is active, has a healthy coat, and is of normal weight. Dad is pictured dividing his warning yips between me and some unknown annoyance outside the left of the frame. He is headed towards the den area, already guarded by at least one other family member.
It is about time for Mom, if indeed pregnant, to deliver her pups. It sure looks like her family is preparing for just such an event.
Posting written by Charles Wood. Visit Charles Wood’s website for more coyote photos: Charles Wood. His work is copyrighted and may only be used with his explicit permission.