“Litter”ally Playing

What fun! A rest stop on a trekking adventure. The little guy is bold and daring to attack the bag — at least he thinks so — you can see his trepidation! Charge and retreat. Might it bite back? Maybe he’s seen a bag behaving erratically by blowing in the wind and wondered if it might do something unexpected?  I had been shooting stills, but when I realized what was happening I quickly switched to video. But that is about when the play stopped, so the video is very short. However, it’s enough to give an idea of this coyote playing.

Oh, No! An Injury!

When coyotes are injured, they tend to lay low — I wondered why I hadn’t seen this one, and now I know.

Injuries are not uncommon in our wild animals. Although wild critters are pretty resilient, if an injury impairs an animal’s ability to get away from danger, or if it interferes with effective hunting, it could spell the end.

This injury, affecting the left front leg, could be an injury to the elbow, shoulder, wrist or paw. Coyotes can twist their “ankles” like the rest of us, when they hit a hole in the ground going full speed. Of course, normally they are not going full speed — unless they need to get away from a dog which is chasing it, or possibly from a car on the road.

Hopefully it will heal quickly. Three years ago, this same coyote sustained a back-leg injury which caused severe limping for over a month. She was hit by a car. It was June and she was a single mom with two young pups. We knew that nature would take care of her, and we knew that any interference on our part would make matters worse. We watched, and sure enough, she healed, and her pups grew up!

No Stealth When Ravens Are Present

Suddenly there was a commotion from the Ravens. I heard their loud cries of alarm — they often call out when they sense impending danger. I didn’t see anything, but I waited.  Sure enough two coyotes appeared on a hill — I knew it! I knew coyotes were the cause of all the unhappy Raven noise! They appeared to be trekking through — and that often is enough to cause alarm among the Ravens. The coyotes sat down and observed their surroundings. Then, one of them stood up, tensed up and became focused — I decided to aim my camera in that direction. The cawing continued, even though there was no activity that I could see — except the tension in the coyote, and the cawing of the Ravens.  So the three of us were tense: me, coyote, Ravens. And then, in my viewfinder, there appeared the part of the equation that was missing! Foiled by the Ravens?

Plumping Up The Bed

This coyote headed up a hill and began digging and pawing the ground. It looked like any other hunting session, only there was a little more “pulling” than usual. When it finally looked perfect, the coyote circled around and then curled up comfortably. It had not been hunting at all — it had been digging a little hollow and moving the grass around into a comfortable place to rest!

Mournful Fugue

The grasses were tall. The wind was blowing gently. There was a siren. The coyote looked up and listened — he looked up and listened twice. And then began the amazing fugue.  I never saw the other coyote — it was in the bushes. Compare this to the last recording: both involve two coyotes, but are very different. This one here has extended mournful howls and squeals from one coyote, while the one you see in the video is actually barking most of the time. I never cease to get exciting when I hear these amazing sounds.

Squeals and Grooming

We heard the sirens — not so loud and long as usual — but we  thought there might be the possibility for a concert, so we waited. We were right! The sirens part was very short — I don’t think I caught any of it on the tape, but the coyotes continued their serenade well after the sirens had passed. And, the show didn’t end there. When they were finished with their yips, squeals and barks, one of them approached the other and began grooming — in this case, taking off ticks one be one — the same as I have shown before.

This particular video is different from my others. The entire first half of it was blurry — the camera mechanism for automatic focus just couldn’t seem to find itself — it kept zooming in and out without ever focusing, so all I had was one big blur for that section of the video. I was so disappointed that I might not be able to use the video clip. A friend of mine offered to help, and look what he came up with!! I think it’s fabulous, really superb!! And you get to hear the vocalizations throughout.

Aging In The Wild

What happens to our urban wildlife neighbors as they age? I took some photos of an older coyote today. I could see that, as the years go by, the body becomes worn and feels the effects of the accumulated wear and tear, and the effects of time. There is a slightly slower gait and it takes longer to get going. You are a little stiffer and some of your joints hurt — bending to scratch takes a little more effort and does not look as easy as it used to.  You seem to crumple into a blob when you sit sometimes, hanging from your bones instead of sitting up straight and strong.

More time is spent napping during the day and you forget that you’ve already stretched before you take off — or maybe it just takes more stretches to get all the kinks out? Your coat is a little more ragged, tattered and torn and the many scars underneath show through. Not only might your eyes be more swollen, you have to squint often to see past your weaker eyesight — and the animal world doesn’t have the privilege of glasses. Unless a gopher is an easy catch you won’t go for it.

But, to me, it is because of these changes that this coyotes is more adorable than ever. He’s worked hard and earned every one of these badges of his accumulated years. Also, young pups have come and gone, and so have a couple of mates. Life never has been particularly easy, and I can see that it is less so with time.

What really matters is that this coyote is still the alpha of his pack, that this is his own territory, that he protects and hunts every day for his family and his yearly offspring. San Francisco in one of the best habitats around: there is water nearby, there still are trees and thickets which provide protection and cover, and there are fields for hunting! Life is still pretty good!

Rainy Dawn — in Sepia

It was wet, wet, wet outside, so, of course, when I came across coyotes making their rounds, they, too, were wet, wet, wet. These semi-silhouette photos were taken under very bad early and gloomy light conditions. My ISO must have been about 6400. Nevertheless, the individual fur strands stood out sharply against the background sky and I thought their forms on the rocks were absolutely beautiful. Under those lighting conditions, there really was no “color” in the photos, so I played with some “enhancement” possibilities and decided that sepia showed these forms off to advantage.

Rock formations and outcroppings exist in a great many of our Bay Area parks: these are mostly chert, but there are also a few serpentine formations.

New Life, by Charles Wood

Sunday here in LA County I saw Dad on watch. He is pictured with his head resting on his front paws, alert and ready to move quickly. He did move out of sight when I glanced away. To Dad’s left, a sole puppy emerged out of brush. I had gotten lucky! I shot video when the puppy went to where Dad had been. The puppy looks like a large one, probably about two months old.

Dad

Dad and his puppy had the high ground looking west over their field. They hid themselves after a minute or two. They then either stayed put or moved elsewhere. Either way, I didn’t see them again Sunday.

Mom and Dad’s child rearing duties never end. In the four years I’ve watched them they always have had kids around of various ages. In all likelihood, only a few of their children survived childhood and dispersal to reproduce.

Puppy

Years ago, Mom and Dad were young and alone, were newly dispersed coyotes without friend or territory. They met and their lives changed for the better. They rejoiced in having discovered each other. Together they were strong. They found their place in this world, their field. They felt invincible as they made a life for themselves. Soon kids came. From having helped their own parents with younger siblings, and from instinct Mom and Dad knew how to parent. Now Mom and Dad, together with older children still at home, pass on their coyote ways.

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.

Who’s The Boss?, by Charles Wood

Dad

Mom

Dad found me Thursday as I sat with my dog, Holtz, trying to look inconspicuous at the south end of my coyotes’ field. A new day, a new vantage point to the south, and that Dad didn’t bother me a few days ago all encouraged my hope for rapprochement. Pictured is Dad as he stood on the riverbank after urging me to leave.

Mom too was out. She watched as Dad scolded us and later joined him. Side by side they both scrapped dirt. They worked as a team. I doubt either needs to be the other’s boss.

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.

Ticks

Ticks seem to be out now. My last posting showed a coyote grooming another — it looked as though ticks were being removed. Here is a coyote photo I’ve blown up — the ticks are very visible on the ears. Since we don’t have deer in the city of San Francisco, there is no risk of Lyme Disease. The ticks eventually fall off of coyotes with healthy immune systems. However, I have seen an unhealthy deer which the ticks clung to — it’s entire neck was literally covered with this blood-sucking insect.

Grooming: Ticks-Be-Gone!

The little coyote I had been watching ignored the faint sound of a siren in the distance, but Maeve, who was far off, began howling from the distance after hearing it. Immediately, the one I had been watching, Silver, joined in, but not for long. He resumed his hunting for awhile and then sat down to watch something in the distance. When Maeve appeared, I realized that he had been watching her approach. The howling had been used to locate each other. He aimlessly moved in her direction, it seemed, and finally met her on a path where he proffered kisses — but she seemed annoyed and shrugged him off with a strong nod of her head. Might this have been because I was there?

He then wandered off to hunt, and these two appear to have lost each other. Maeve went to a path where she sat and seemed to look for him. He, too, looked for her. They were close to each other but not aware of where the other was. So Maeve got up and began to wander, and it is then that Silver spotted her and approached her, and it is then that this grooming took place.

Grooming serves to get rid of bugs and to clean — here it looks as though ticks are being removed. Grooming also is a platform for showing affection, care, and reinforcing family hierarchy. Interestingly, she is the one who did the grooming, he did not groom her back.