Coyotes on the Cliff in Daly City, by Mark Citret


I live in Daly City, on the western side of the western-most street, just south of the San Francisco city limit. My backyard backs onto about 150 feet of cliff top before it plunges down to the Pacific. About a month ago, at dawn, I just caught sight of a sharp featured canine creature loping northward along the cliff top. Before I could grab my binoculars he was out of sight. But I’d seen enough coyotes in the mountains and the desert to know it was a coyote.

Then yesterday morning around 8 I saw this handsome guy just standing out there, stalking a gopher hole. This time I had time to grab the binoculars. I opened the window to see him more clearly, and at that point he looked up and was quite aware of me, but he didn’t bolt. I guess the prospect of the gopher was too enticing. I wanted to take some photos, but I had no idea where my point and shoot was. I’m a photographer, but I prefer film and it had been so long since I’d used my G10 I didn’t even know where it was. Knowing he might be gone by the time I found it, I risked it, and when I’d finally found it he was still there, intent on getting the gopher. Got a few shots off before he finally made his leap at the hole. I don’t think he got his prey. He trotted off north. I’ve attached a few pix.

I then googled “coyotes in San Francisco” and that’s how I came across your name and website. I’m wondering where this guy lives. I’m about a mile south of the stables at the SF/Daly City line, and there are pretty large stretches of wildland above Thornton Beach, below Skyline Drive and the Olympic Club golf course. I’m wondering if his den is down in that area, or if he comes all the way from Golden Gate Park. Any ideas?

In any event, it was a thrill to see him. I don’t own any long lenses, so the 30mm zoom on my G10 is about the best I can do. If I could entice him into hunting the gophers right in my backyard I could get a better close-up.

I’ve enjoyed your website and blog.  

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jennifer
    Apr 29, 2012 @ 16:18:03

    Comment from Jennifer: There has been much research conducted on the range and behavior of coyotes in urban environments by a group lead by scientist Stan Getz in Chicago. According to their findings, the average home range of an urban coyote is less than 6 miles. There is easily six square miles of open space with no major roads where you spotted this guy, so chances are this coyote is a resident.
    I recommend you check out their research if you are curious, as they have been studying their 200+ Chicago coyotes for more than ten years now.

    Reply from Janet at Yipps: Professor Stan Gehrt at Ohio State University is conducting fascinating research on coyotes in the Chicago area which is home to 2000 (two thousand, not two hundred) coyotes. He also has a superb website with lots of fascinating information: http://www.urbancoyoteresearch.com/index.htm. Please check it out!

    Reply

  2. Charles Wood
    Apr 29, 2012 @ 23:47:03

    Hi Mark: Your male coyote may be solitary or he may be mated and possibly with children. A coyote pair will use a den when the pups are small, not usinig it otherwise. If he is mated, he probably lives in your area somewhere with an established territory. If solitary, he lives on the perimeter of the territory of other coyote family groups in your area, if any, with forays into those other territories when temporarily undefended. Coyotes will share some spaces that are beyond the territories they do defend. I’ve seen coyotes in territory of less than 2 square miles, which is in line with the findings of the Chicago study referred to above. See http://www.urbancoyoteresearch.com/Where_Coyotes_Found.htm Home-Range size, where the territory they defend is smaller than the home range by their definition. And of course, he may have just been passing through.

    Reply

  3. Dianne
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 05:35:03

    Hello Mark, I was just at my friend’s neighborhood earlier when we decided to check out the sunset from the cliff here in daly City. I think it’s the same cliff you were talking about. Anyway, as we were taking pictures I turned around and I thought I saw a dog, but as it strolled by I noticed it wasn’t with its owner. I take a closer look and realize it wasn’t a dog. I knew it wasn’t a fox because they seem shorter than this particular one, and I didn’t think it was a wolf (more like hoping it wasn’t a wolf), but I totally forgot about coyotes. I had my point and shoot Sony with me so I was able to take pictures and videos as well. I wanted to take more pictures of it as it walked by so I whistled and it looked back at me. For some reasonI wasn’t afraid but I knew better than to try to do anything with it. I think it found a gopher or two so I was glad it had something to feed on. Afterwards I wanted tog et a video with the coyote behind me but I must’ve scared it off.

    Anyway, I’m really glad I stumbled across your page because I really wanted to know what I saw. I think it lives in the bushes on that cliff and didn’t seem to be too scared of us since it probably sees visitors now and then. This is my second time going to that cliff but I hope there won’t be any harm caused by the coyote nor the visitors to the animal.

    Reply

  4. Mark Citret
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 14:43:07

    hi Dianne, After not having seen the guy for a year or so I’ve seen him maybe a half dozen times in the last month. And these times have been in the middle of the day, rather than the early morning sightings previously. I think you may be right– that he lives very close by, possibly in those bushes you mention. But I haven’t seen any others or pups, so I’m not sure that Charles Wood’s April 2012 speculation is correct, that he’s mated and possibly with children. I’ve spent lots of time in the desert and Death Valley, so I know the yipping that coyote pups make. Haven’t ever heard that here. But maybe these urban coyotes are more circumspect.

    There seem to be unlimited gophers around here, so there’s food for him. I’ve also seen raccoons and skunks, which I hope he has the sense to avoid. I also worry a bit about the neighborhood cats, who also hunt gophers out on the cliff.

    Reply

    • Dianne
      Sep 27, 2013 @ 04:54:16

      Hi Mark,
      Well it seems that it may be the same coyote you saw from last year. And maybe his hunting times have changed too, or he probably goes out whenever he needs to feed. We saw him just before sunset (which was at exactly 7:01pm last night). He wasn’t around long though, I think he just went out for some food before night time. And I hope it’s on the same cliff as yours because I just moved back to Daly City from the east coast about a month ago so I’m not very familiar with this area.
      I also forgot to mention that it was particularly very windy yesterday (not that it matters or anything) but I enjoyed myself a lot with what I saw.

      In regards to Charle’s post, i would love to share some photos that I took although my freezing hands weren’t very steady due to the powerful winds that evening. Janet just emailed me so I’ll be sending the photos to her.
      I was wondering if you heard any coyote attacks from the cliff area? I’m aware that animals will be animals and will attack when scared or threatened, but I was just curious in case I do go back to the cliff.

      Reply

  5. Charles Wood
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 22:58:18

    Wow! I would love to see pictures, Dianne. Perhaps Janet would post some if you sent them to her?

    It is hard to know much about a particular coyote without frequent observation. The pair I had been watching: I haven’t seen them since the end of June. I had thought I would see their puppies at least by July, but they seem to have abandoned the den area, or their foraging habits and times have changed. Also, I was surprised to see an unfamiliar older female coyote near the den area a couple weeks ago after dark. Coyotes are full of surprises and it takes lots of observations and clue searching to get some ideas about what might be going on. So I want to say that no yipping means a solitary coyote, but ya never know.

    Reply

  6. Sherman Van Lieu
    Oct 23, 2013 @ 02:06:41

    Just recently my son photographed a coyote on Higate in Daly City. He was able to watch it walk down the street towards skyline blvd. where it vanished into the brush and trees.

    Reply

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