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16 Oct 2013 Leave a Comment
Here in the LA area yesterday evening I took this video of a coyote. It was too dark for me to actually see the coyote. I used a couple of flashlights to track its movement. All I could see was reflection from the coyote’s eyes. Was it a coyote?
We can tell it was from how it walked around, looked around and then dropped its head in canine fashion to investigate an odor. Also, I had arrived a little earlier when the light was a bit better and could still make it out. It was a coyote. It vanished, as you can see in the video, so I went home.
At home much later, I heard barking from a distance of a few houses away. After several minutes I recognized it as the bark of a coyote. The bark had short and high dog-like bursts, several times repeated and concluding with a song. The song was a quick “yaaw yaaw yaaw yaaw yaaw”. Dogs don’t sing that way so I knew it was a coyote or a very very strange dog. The coyote kept barking and some of its barks did not end with the song. Without the song, its bark sounded like a dog with an insistent and high voice.
I went to investigate. I walked past houses as I looked around for the coyote, heading for the park at the end of my street. Passing by about half a dozen or so houses, from inside the house closest to the park I heard someone yell “OH SHUT UP!” That was how I felt after about ten minutes of that barking.
Arriving at the park, I could hear the coyote but couldn’t see it. I found it by using my flashlight, light reflecting back from the coyote’s eyes. I got a good look at a nondescript coyote. It looked like it was barking at something near or in a tree. I smiled to myself, recognizing typically pointless canine behavior. Upon seeing me and being under my light, the coyote ran off. I yelled at it for good measure. Once I got home the coyote’s barking started up again. By the time I called my neighbor to go back down there with me, the barking had stopped.
17 Jul 2013 2 Comments
I spotted this mom close to where I’ve seen her family several times. Coyotes maintain several safe spaces which they move between if they need to — for example, when they feel endangered, or if the fleas get out of hand. This was one of them.
Here, there is a small worn figure “8″ path which is bare of foliage — an area I’ve seen traversed by pups playing. It is also a place where adults lie down to watch. She picked the crossing of the figure “8″ for her scheme. She carefully dug a hole and buried the prey she had carried home, using her snout to push the soil over the prey. When she was finished, she trotted off into the distance. Before she was out of sight, small pups appeared. Had she called them? How did they know to come?
She continued on to a hilltop to watch and monitor. The pups alternated their attention between watching her leave and sniffing the burial spot. Then, suddenly, they ran off. Had they been spooked? Had the prey moved? They then turned around and kept their eye on that patch of earth, but nothing happened. Soon they became distracted by the need to play, and the buried treasure was forgotten about.
Fast forward 24 hours when I returned to the spot the next day. As I waited, two pups appeared. The two pups again sniffed the area without finding anything. Had the treasure already been found? However, one of them did uncover prey about 3 feet away — looks like it had also been left there by mom since there was no struggle to capture it — it was just “there”, ready to be picked up by a pup.
Looks like Mom is making things easy for the kids — first attempts at hunting are a piece of cake! I find it amazing that such thought-out schemes are used by coyote parents to facilitate the training process!
Addendum: I wonder if the same thing, facilitating, was occurring in this posting about the papa coyote several weeks ago? Pups were only a little over one month old at the time, so maybe papa coyote was “jumping the gun” so to speak?? Blue Jay “Buries” P-nut in a Four Foot Bush; Coyote Reburies His Find
14 Jun 2013 Leave a Comment
At about this time of year, most coyote pups have been, or are being, weaned from their milk diets. But they aren’t yet able to hunt on their own — this will take training. So parents are feeding them with both regurgitated food and with entire small rodents which they bring home in their snouts. Pups are still being kept hidden – it’s too risky to bring them on hunting expeditions.
Today I watched this coyote pair as they went to work. One waited for the other for about 20 minutes as dusk fell. They normally wait for one another before going trekking. But this coyote got impatient and went on — the other would soon follow — they would meet up along the way to a hunting area. They took a route along the edge of bushes, hoping to avoid detection. When they got to a high open area, they scouted to make sure the way was clear and safe. Then they headed into an overgrown field of oat grasses which were about two feet tall. They wouldn’t be hidden there, but they would be well camouflaged.
The rodent population there was good because they each caught rodent after rodent and ate each one. She caught at least four in a row — he caught at least two. This was all within the space of about 20 minutes. As they wound down their hunting session, the male caught one last vole and tossed it up high in the air. He then tossed it in the direction of the female and then took it to her. She grabbed it from him and turned her back on him so that he could not grab it back. This vole — whole — would be good for training purposes for the youngsters at home.
So she looked around, saw that the way was clear, and headed over hill and valley with the prey in her mouth. The male followed: he was bringing home his share of the bacon in his stomach! And she had more in her stomach, too, for feeding the hungry brood waiting at home.
16 May 2013 Leave a Comment
Coyotes are usually solitary hunters. This is due to their main food source being small rodents — mice, voles, gophers — which can’t really be divided up between several coyotes. However, coyotes will engage in teamwork when hunting a larger animal, such as anything bigger than a raccoon.
The above sequence of photos shows two coyotes who are together as they hunt. They both head for the same spot when they hear a rodent underground. The female is the alpha — she digs more energetically than the male. Maybe she was hungrier than he was. The male must have sensed this because he stopped digging but kept his gaze on the spot where she was digging. So she glared at him: “Hey man, give me space!” He moved off to the side to wait patiently, feigning no interest in the meal she had just claimed as hers. She continued digging ferociously and reaped the reward of her labors: it was a huge gopher. He watched, seemingly disinterested. When she finished her meal, he got up to walk on with her.
25 Mar 2013 Leave a Comment
When I first began watching my coyotes in 2009 I thought that I would frequently get to see them hunt and eat. I was wrong, I never witnessed them eating. Finally this week, after almost four years, a coyote caught and ate something while I was watching.
The video begins just after Mary pounced on a rodent burrow. I’m impressed by how quickly she moves. Once Mary has it she looks toward the camera, rodent hanging limply from her mouth. Then she looks back over her left shoulder at my two dogs and me. Mary turns her head back and then looks back again at us over her right shoulder. She takes a good long look. Then Mary puts the dead rodent down in order to peer into the burrow. The second clip shows her eating the rodent while a rabbit moves around in the background.
Mary’s concern, upon catching a meal, was with my dogs. I think she looked back at us to make sure we wouldn’t run to her to take her meal away. She looked at us twice to be sure her catch was safe from theft, in my opinion. Convinced her meal was safe, she put it down on the ground. However Mary didn’t look for Rufous. In my opinion, her failure to look for Rufous was a clue to his whereabouts. Either he isn’t a thief, unlikely, or she knows he wasn’t in the vicinity.
16 Jan 2013 15 Comments
Note how gingerly this coyote initially pursues his prey in this video. He begins by listening for little scurrying sounds of voles in their vast tunnel network underground — he does not want to alert them to his presence. So he tiptoes around the spot, carefully positions himself and waits — all the while listening intently. He’s very smart about what he is doing: clever and shrewd.
The hunt then shifts from a mental strategizing to a more physical one — there is a pounce/punch with nose and forepaws, followed by digging, and then another punch of the forepaws, followed by more digging. Punching serves to force some activity below the surface — if the coyote is able to collapse a tunnel or scare the vole, the vole might move so that the coyote will either see or hear it. His last recourse is to stick his nose in a tunnel entryway. After all that, he came up empty handed! One can see why coyotes get their reputation for being clever, cunning, crafty, shrewd, tricky, and smart.
25 Dec 2012 2 Comments
These fist punches are not as forceful as the fist and nose punches which are supposed to deliver enough blow to incapacitate or stun. Here, the back legs never leave the ground. Instead, these milder punches appear to be “exploratory” in nature, possibly to get a critter to scurry through the underground tunnel so it can be heard, or to even collapse underground tunnels.
If the coyote hears movement below the surface, or feels that it is onto something, digging may follow, as in the video at the bottom. However, as seen by the first two videos, sometimes no digging at all follows the punch, because nothing was heard. In all three cases here, these coyotes came up with nothing for their efforts: either the gopher or mole got away, or maybe wasn’t even there to begin with.
Punch, then looking for movement and listening for possible activity below ground
Another punch, and then listening and looking for possible signs of life below
Here the punch is followed by digging.
10 Dec 2012 3 Comments
Swimmers have to come up for air, or they’ll get water in their lungs. Coyotes, too, have to come up for air, or they’ll get dirt in their lungs — or maybe not enough air into their lungs. Watch the coyote stuff his snout deep into the hole, and then lift it out just enough to get fresh air, and then stuff it back in, and repeat this sequence several times.This video clip shows three instances of coming up for air, and also some intense digging.
15 Aug 2012 Leave a Comment
These two seem to be in each others’ faces. If they were to catch a vole or gopher, I wonder if they would share it? Towards the end of the video here, one coyote runs off because dogs are approaching. The other coyote didn’t seem to want to give up the possibility of a catch! However, it, too, bolted, the minute the dog actually saw it and began to chase — right after I cut off the video.
20 Jul 2012 Leave a Comment
There was something in that bush that the coyote was after, though I never saw it. The bush has a springy quality to it — trampoline like! It looks like fun — maybe that is why the coyote tries it over and over again. The companion coyote thinks the whole endeavor is kind of silly: there might be some teasing going on! I have observed coyotes in trees before, but this is the first true bushjumping I’ve seen! I did post some similar jumping in stills, but it wasn’t this dramatic. The name of this bush is “coyote bush” — coincidentally!
05 Jul 2012 2 Comments
It was impossible to focus through the tall grasses. The camera’s automatic focus kept choosing the grass instead of the tail. Oh, well. You get the idea. This fellow was hunting. Most of the time when coyotes hunt, their tails are not this active. The coyote did catch a meal — maybe the fast tail helped?!
27 Apr 2012 7 Comments
27 Feb 2012 2 Comments
Here’s a pounce and a catch, followed by toying with its prey. Have you ever noticed that coyotes are similar to cats in some of their behaviors? Both coyotes and cats bury prey that they either don’t want or want to save for later. They both arch their backs in the same halloween cat like fashion when threatened. And, as this video shows here, coyotes, as cats, sometimes “toy” with their prey, batting it around or tossing it in the air and then watching it before consuming it.
23 Feb 2012 Leave a Comment
Here’s a cool photo. Note the intense focus right as a pounce is about to happen. The coyote has taken aim and has just backed up enough to gain maximum spring in his leap. He’s already begun his upward motion with a raised arm, which will allow him to forcefully punch his prey, thereby incapacitating it. The punch occurs sometimes with the forepaws and sometimes with the snout. In this instance, the coyote came out empty handed.