An exasperated coyote determinedly puts an end to the howling of another coyote: “Cool It!” They were responding to a siren. Notice that the victim actually has the last word, though it’s not very loud, before they both settle down to groom themselves!
25 May 2015 Leave a comment
31 Mar 2013 2 Comments
For several years I’ve visited a nearby field to watch two coyote parents whom I named Mom and Dad. In November 2012 I found that a new coyote couple had replaced Mom and Dad as the field’s resident coyotes. I named them Rufous and Mary.
One possible difference between Mom and Dad’s behavior compared to Rufous and Mary’s is that Mom and Dad did not seem to howl at emergency vehicle sirens. Consider my August 22, 2012 post: A Brief Show. The video included there showed Mom ignoring both the siren and her youngsters’ howls in reply. My general impression after many observations was that Mom and Dad just didn’t bother with howling back at sirens. I always thought that restraint showed how intelligent Mom and Dad are.
In contrast, the video included with this post shows Rufous howling at sirens. A little earlier, Rufous and Mary, both hidden, were howling at the sirens.
22 Aug 2012 Leave a comment
Mom and her puppy were waiting around when a siren sounded in the distance. The puppy got hidden pack members to join it for some vocalizing. Mom, on watch, did not join in. I didn’t have time to properly set my tripod and the noise from passing cars almost entirely drowned out the coyotes. A minute later the puppy had hidden itself and the show was over.
15 May 2011 2 Comments
It may come as a surprise that coyotes do not use dens year round. They use the dens to give birth to their pups and as a place to nurse their young — whelping. The pups move out soon after these beginnings, however, they retain use of the well hidden areas around the dens — these become their secret resting places. Most coyote families retain several of these areas for their use. The pups are moved regularly to escape flea buildup and as a safety measure. I think of a coyote den as being similar in usage to a bird’s nest: it is a temporary “nursery”. However, the nest, if it is still somewhat intact, may be fixed up the next year to be used again. This is how the coyote dens I’ve seen work. People are constantly asking me where the dens are, and I have to respond that, unless they are having pups, there are no dens: coyotes sleep out in the open and can sometimes be seen doing so. See my posting of July 15, 2010: Sleeping and Resting Right In The Open.
The den is dug by both parents-to-be on sandy hillsides and steep creek banks, under logs or rocks, within underbrush and in open areas where the digging is easy. These are always areas chosen for protective concealment, but also, they are places that can be watched by a coyote parent from some distance, again for protective purposes. Not all coyote dens are made by coyotes themselves: coyotes sometimes dig out and enlarge holes dug by smaller burrowing animals, such as badger or fox dens. In suburban and urban areas coyotes may dig dens in golf courses or in other vacant lots, under sheds and under culverts and storm drains.
Dens are usually three to six feet below the surface and can run from only a few feet to 50 feet into a hillside. The dug out tunnel leads to a large chamber, which often has a second or even more entrances that are better hidden than the digging entrance. Active dens are hard to find because of the various entrances — and because coyotes are very careful not to lead anyone there. Coyotes have not one, but several dens which they move between, not only to protect the pups from predators, but also to protect the pups from the fleas and other parasites which build up.
A coyote will fiercely defend its den if it believes the pups are in danger, even charging full-grown grizzlies who came too close. This is why dog owners are warned to keep their dogs far away from coyotes during pupping season. Pups are born from March thru mid-May, and then are nursed for 4-6 weeks. But the end of nursing is not the end of “pupping”. I’ve seen mothers fiercely defend pups who are approaching two years of age when dogs go after them. It is best to respect coyotes and allow them the space they need to feel safe.
Here is a wonderful link to a video of pups emerging from their den for the first time, produced by BBC Worldwide. It is called Coyote Cub Singing, and shows a very young coyote pup producing his first high-pitched howl!! Also, see more coyote pups emerging from their den.
04 Nov 2010 Leave a comment
A siren in the distance caused this howling session. I’m hearing sirens all the time these days, and that must be the reason I’ve been hearing coyotes more often — something which was rare during daylight only a month ago. Here the howling began by one coyote which was joined by a second coyote only a few yards away. I’m pretty sure a third one joined in from the distance, because one of the original two coyotes ran off for a moment and returned with a third. By the time the third one joined the group, the howling was over, but this one may have joined in from the distance. Coyotes howling always sound like many more than there really are. The howling served as the occasion for a joyful reunion with kisses and hugs, and shaking: this is how coyote families party! Howling may serve for various coyotes to assure contact with each other: “hey, I’m fine over here, how are things over there”? . Hear recording #7.
In this instance, immediately after the reunion, one of the young male coyotes tried to dominate the other –notice ears down and to the sides of the bullied fella. Be that as it may, this bullied one is learning to slip out of the grasp of his dominating sibling.
How far away can a coyote howl be heard? This depends on many circumstances, but you can be sure that the coyote can hear further and more clearly than we humans can. Wind, physical terrain and what is on it, other noises all serve as interference and can make coyotes close by sound more distant. Maybe this is why coyotes often howl from the tops of bare hills. I have heard coyotes about 1/8th mile away respond to a siren on a quiet and still evening, with another coyote — barely audible — responding from afar — I might guess that coyote to have been half of a mile away — it’s a guess.
18 Oct 2010 Leave a comment
Three coyotes howling (#6) in response to a siren, with some bass in the background added by a dog — this is the first minute of the recording. The last 4 minutes turns into barking by one of the coyotes with a second one howling occasionally — it went on less intensely for a long time in response to dogs and onlookers on a path close by.