On New Year’s Day I saw two coyotes just outside my Mom and Dad coyote’s den area. They were the same two I saw there on November 22, 2012. My November 23 and November 26, 2012 posts speculated that the two were either passing through or living there. With respect to my dogs, the new coyotes have on two occasions messaged them that the area is theirs. It is likely that these two new coyotes have made themselves at home and don’t want my dogs to even think of doing the same.
Pictured is a coyote male known formerly as “New Gal” in my two November posts. In November his left eye showed an injury and the more recent picture reveals his eye to possibly be blind. I am still unable to tell the sex of his companion.
The video clip begins with a view of his companion. It’s watching my dogs and me while the male is watching off camera. A view of the male heading back to his companion concludes the clip.
The new coyotes could well be mates. Pupping season is just around the corner and coyote couples do need to make preparations. Mom and Dad’s den area no doubt has several ready-made dens, is brushy, isolated, has its own water supply, and has surrounds replete with rabbits, frogs, lizards, snakes, rats, mice, and birds available for the repasts of a coyote family. The property is improved, having deserted dirt roads for comfortable transit and landscaped embankments from which to take a look at things. Although humans do pass by they rarely tarry, mostly going quickly to and fro on comfortably distant and raised, highly visible paths. It’s an area well suited to a coyote couple’s needs where the only real worry comes from the envy of other coyotes. If the new coyotes are mates, the female seems ineffectual. However, the male is superb. He seems to be all the coyote that she is ever going to need.
The new coyotes could be siblings, or could be father and child. Time may tell just as time may tell us what happened to Mom and Dad, holders of the property for at least the last four years.
I last saw Mom and Dad in late October as they reconnoitered the den area. Since then they appear to have lost ground. Mom and Dad may never return to the den area, perhaps having lost it in a fight. Yet perhaps they allowed newcomers in without a fight. At this time of year they may need that space less. In fact, in past falls and winters I saw little of Mom and Dad there. Also, Mom and Dad’s family seems to include only one puppy and no yearlings, where the den area’s food may not be necessary. It may not now be an area important enough to defend; and perhaps not important later because there must be other areas in their home range that could well serve them in pupping. Considering the entirety of Mom and Dad’s home range, with the newcomers there are still only five coyotes in an area that in the past supported as many as seven. At this point I can’t say if Mom and Dad made a losing stand on some principle of ownership or if instead they just walked away from a fight for lack of anything to fight about.
There is another intriguing possibility. The new male’s companion might be one of Mom and Dad’s female yearlings. It could be that an intergenerational transfer of land-tenure explains the presence of the new tenants, a mixing of old and new blood with benefits for all. Although typically coyote young disperse, some coyote apples may not fall far from the tree.
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.