I watched as the male of this pair searched for his mate. He wandered all over the place, looking up and down and over ridges, but he couldn’t find her. He then gave up and headed for the cover of bushes where he would spend his daytime hours. As he headed away, she appeared and watched him leave — he had not seen her. She then turned and went in the other direction, away from him, and into another brush area of the park. Was she hiding from and avoiding him on purpose? It looked that way.
12 Nov 2015 Leave a comment
In one of my coyote families, the parents have been spending all dusk, dawn and daytime hours far removed and distant from their one single pup. He’s been an “only” pup since he was very small, so maybe it was a single birth.
In the other families I’ve observed, these daytime hours, when the coyotes are visible to me, have included a good deal of “family time”, where parents can be seen engaging with youngsters: playing, sharing, grooming, resting within view of each other.
Not so in this particular family. Although I’ve seen the parents take food to their youngster and groom him — indicating that the family is still intact and functional, I’m seeing these types of behaviors only very sporadically — almost never — and they occur in the most secluded parts of their park. I wonder why more of these quieter daytime hours aren’t being spent with the youngster?
I don’t know the answer to this question, but the possibility occurred to me that the parents might be trying to entice the youngster out of his hiding places — to join them where they are. The parents have been hanging around in a field, at about the distance of several football fields away, but within view of him for the most part. Then again, as opposed to enticing the youngster out of his seclusion, maybe it is the parents who have prompted him to stay there — forbidding him to leave that safe zone? Teaching him about territoriality? Or, it could simply be that all the interactions always, without fail, take place only during the darkest hours of the night when I am not around to see them.
The youngster is extremely shy and wary — more so than most youngsters. Each coyote, like each human, is an individual and different from the next. I’ve seen this one duck under cover if a person even looks at him from the far distance across a meadow. He ducks into the forest and can only be glimpsed now and then from between the bushes and trees. Maybe he’s just shy, but now I’m also wondering if he might not fit in?
A couple of years ago, in a larger family, I observed that one of the youngsters was shyer and more wary than the rest of his litter. He also seldom ventured into the areas of his park where there are people and pets, even though his siblings did when park patrons were few and the light was still, or had become, murky and dim. He didn’t interact well with his siblings: they played catch and chase and had wrestling matches, whereas this one would sit off to the side and watch, almost afraid to enter the fray, and then try to calm the exuberance between the others as though they were fighting and not playing — he did this by being aggressive. When they tried to include him in their play, he did the same thing. So the siblings just moved off a ways and continued their play. He was a loner who didn’t fit well into family life. He was dispersed soon after his first birthday. Is this is what is going to happen in this family with an “only child”?
20 Sep 2015 Leave a comment
This observation occurred way back on June 19th, but I never got around to posting it until now. Dad was doing his duty when he came out at late dusk to check things out for safety. The pups themselves were still too young to be brought out into the open — they were still only two months old. He must have been making sure the area would be safe for Mom. Mom coyote was still lactating, and her survival was necessary for the survival of the youngsters. Coyote family members watch out for each other.
Dad came to the crest of a hill and looked in all directions. Mom stayed at the bottom of the hill assessing the situation for herself and looking towards Dad for any signal of danger he might give her. Dad indeed had heard some voices and saw SOMEthing, and Mom knew how to read his body language. She hurried back to the safety of the bushes and he followed soon afterwards.
I went looking for what the disturbance might have been. I only had to walk a few paces to where, because of the darkness, I could barely make out two fella humans sitting on the ground by some rocks next to the path the coyotes would have taken. They were talking in barely audible soft, hushed voices. I don’t know if Dad coyote had heard them, smelled them, or seen them. I myself had not heard them or seen them (or smelled them!) in the quiet of the evening, and would never have known they were there if it were not for the revealing coyote behavior — the same behavior that Mom coyote could read about Dad.
17 Aug 2015 1 Comment
She was on her way out on a trek when I, and she, heard the distant signature call of her mate. She stopped and looked back into the distance from where the call came from for some time, but she did not answer him and she did not go in his direction. When the calling stopped, she proceeded on her merry way, out of the park, through the neighborhood, and on to her destination, wherever that was.
I opted not to follow her, but rather to return to the area where the male had called from. He had called from within some dense bushes, but I thought he might appear out in the open, and indeed he did. I found him heading towards a high lookout point. He was looking for her, even though he must have known that by this time she was long out of sight and out of hearing range. He settled down in the sun to watch and wait for her. He waited and waited.
After a time, he became focused on a dog playing and wandering erratically in the distance. Watching the dog was a good distraction — coyotes do get distracted by what is occurring around them which often causes them to change what they are doing. The dog was claiming way too much liberty in the coyote’s eyes: the dog dug furiously and explored off the beaten path — all within the coyote’s favorite hang-out area, and then, ultimate of insults, he marked the area by peeing on a bush.
The coyote sat up and moved closer during this activity, but he did not descend the hill to “say” or “message” his disapproving feelings. He just put up with it. After all, the owner was right there. The erratically-behaving dog, though bothersome to the coyote, seemed to be minding its own business — it wasn’t searching to flush out coyotes, and it kept within a short distance of its owner.
As he put up with it, another new dog, sticking to the side of its owner and therefore less intrusive, entered the scene. The coyote decided to follow them for a short distance — “where were they going and what were they doing?” This now became a distraction from the distraction. Following from behind offered the coyote a degree of protection since neither owner nor dog were likely to look in back of themselves. But the duo kept moving on and away and were not presenting any issues of interest to the coyote, so the coyote then veered off the path and then headed into the bushes for the day.
By the time the coyote went into the bushes, he had either forgotten about keeping tabs on his mate, or he had decided he no longer wanted to wait for her. She would return within the next couple of hours and he knew this.
As for her, the female of the pair and mother of his pups, why hadn’t she answered his call or run to join him? She acted as though she didn’t want him to keep tabs on her. I wondered if she had just gone off to hunt, or if she actually needed to get away from her mate and pups, or if she had gone off searching for her best friend. Her mate had had to fight off this other male who was the preferred suitor. Her mate had won the battle, but had he won the war — or her heart? It’s generally true in this pair that the female is rather independent in her actions, though she spends a lot of time grooming and snuggling up to her mate. The male, on the other hand, shadows her when he can and he often searches for her when she’s gone off on her own. Is he afraid her preferred suitor might reclaim her?
I’m simply speculating about the motivations of the male and female based on the behavior I’m seeing. Most coyotes mate for life, but this pair began as a triangle and I wonder if it wasn’t fully resolved?