Suspicious of Novel Items in A Known Environment

A new pile of debris, consisting of cardboard pieces in a pile, caught the attention of this 3-year-old female coyote as she headed to her favorite hideout retreat for the day. She approached the pile, as though she were hunting — slowly and carefully, almost tip-toeing in. Then, she turned her head from side to side as she listened for what kind of sounds the new “object” might make. The pile remained silent, so she decided to investigate closer.  She snuck up, ever so carefully and hesitatingly, and attempted grabbing a section of the cardboard in her mouth. This caused another piece of cardboard to shift and move where she had not expected movement. She immediately flinched back, backed up, and then stood behind a planter, keeping an eye on the pile of cardboard. Nothing happened, but it wasn’t worth the risk to explore further. Her suspiciousness ruled supreme, and she skedaddled lickety-split away from the cardboard, around some bushes, and out of sight.

Coyotes are very aware, wary, and suspicious of any changes in their known environment. In this case, someone had dumped some cardboard outside their home. Even though the new material made her uneasy, the coyote was curious and checked it out. The unexplained movement in the cardboard served to seal her suspicions and she decided it was not worth the risk of further investigation. She’ll avoid the area for the next little while and then eventually get used to it, and go on as before. However, if I wanted to dissuade her from coming around again, all I would have to do is move the pile around. She would notice the change, and because of her innate suspiciousness, she would avoid the “possibly dangerous” pile.

To discourage coyotes from visiting your yard, you can tap into this coyote behavior. Place large objects in your yard. The change will make them uncomfortable. They may “check things out”, but they will move on and avoid the object. Every few days, rotate the object or substitute something different. Soon, the coyote will look for another, less disturbing pathway! We have Mary Paglieri to thank for making us all aware of this method of dissuading coyotes from visiting our yards regularly.

When the Cats Are Away….

In each of the parks I frequent, I always see the same coyotes. These coyotes claim their territories, keeping other coyotes, for the most part, out. But the coyotes also engage in excursions to other areas, and I’m not sure what their claim is to these other areas — are they just interlopers?  When they make these excursions — and who knows what they go checking out or why — they are not at home to oversee their own territory. Hmmm….

So, today, the resident coyotes in one of the parks were gone. And…. the “intruder” took it upon herself to roam and explore their home territory in their absence. This is the most I’ve ever seen of her. She did a lot of sniffing and roaming, and she fled quickly from a couple of walkers who saw her. But, interestingly, although I found one small piece of scat on a trail before I became aware of her — and I have no idea if it was hers, I did not see this intruder coyote “mark” at all as she explored. Was she avoiding leaving her scent? Exploring coyote behavior is a voyage of discovery for me, too, and very fascinating!

Leaps n’ Bounds

I guess something exciting caught this fellow’s eye as I followed his movements from across a street. Whatever it was, it got away! The coyote ambled on, as he had been doing before the leaping began. Better luck next time.

Coyotes Like To Check Things Out Thoroughly

Here a coyote is stretching up high to check out a tree stump — coyotes are very curious and inquisitive, and they can be very purposeful. They normally trek along, sniffing at ground level or at eye level, but I also have seen coyotes climb the lower branches of trees when they’ve seen a squirrel there, and I’ve seen them jump high onto an unlikely rock ledge to check out a sound, smell or something they saw. Here, the coyote headed for the tree as if it knew what might be there, and scrutinized it intensely — he seemed to know exactly what he was looking for at that particular spot. He spent over a minute engaged in this activity. However, he left as empty-mouthed as when he arrived. I later checked out the tree stump for myself. There were two large hollows where the coyote had been exploring. One was about a foot deep and the other was about two feet deep. Each was about 8 inches across. Nothing was in those hollows — and they were too close to the ground to serve as wise critter nests.

My thought is that the coyote had found something very interesting there before, or maybe another critter had recently visited this spot leaving its scent there? Seeing this coyote check out the tree reminded me of how keen the memory is for canines. My own dog remembered the exact tree, way off the beaten path, in a heavily wooded area that we had visited only once a year or two earlier. At that time, a raccoon had run to that tree for protection. My dog had followed and watched the fellow watch him from the crook of the tree. Memory of the raccoon incident, and its exact remote location in the middle of nowhere, from a single incident long ago, astonished me because I had totally forgotten about it until my dog ran up to that tree again.

What To Do With A Long Strip Of Tree Bark?

If something like this were to appear in your path, you might be inclined to look at it, grab it, move it and then, after some thought, abandon it as not being too interesting after all. A good long bored yawn might cap off the “encounter.”

Into The ‘Hood

Sometimes coyotes venture out of the parks and into surrounding neighborhoods. They don’t stay long. If you see them, they seem to know exactly what they are doing and where they are going — there is purpose in their movements. Interestingly, most humans don’t even see them. This one returned quickly to the unpaved park area.

Play: Another Possible Toy?

After an intense play session, this coyote found this shredded stick and carried it a few feet before dropping it and leaving it. Maybe the coyote changed its mind about it. I’ve seen coyotes pick up a piece of bark or twig which they will carry a short distance, sit down with, and begin tearing or chewing. This did not happen when I took these photos above: the stick was dropped and left.

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