FIRST: A Guidelines/Safety Box:

1) A VIDEO ON COYOTE BEHAVIORS, GUIDELINES & DOGS: a one-stop video, by me, on urban coyote behavior and how to coexist with them, how to handle encounters, and why culling doesn’t solve issues:

Versión en Español           好鄰居–郊狼”           Condensed English version

*A protocol clarification for when walking a dog  (not addressed in the video): Your safest option always is flat-out, absolute AVOIDANCE: Whether you see a coyote in the distance, approaching you, or at close range, leash your dog and walk away from it, thus minimizing any potential dog/coyote confrontation or engagement. If you choose to shoo it away, follow the guidelines in the videos, but know that what’s safest is proactive, preventative unmitigated avoidance: i.e., walk away.


2) MORE LINKS TO COYOTE BEHAVIOR & DOGS:

citizencoyote-by-janetkesslerPress on image above for another crash course on coyotes

Aside

*A Quote Worth Pondering (blog follows)

“If you talk to the animals they will talk with you and you will know each other.  If you do not talk to them you will not know them, and what you do not know you will fear.  What one fears one destroys.”      Chief Dan George

Charles Wood, a frequent contributor to Coyote Yipps, adds: “I want to try and express Chief Dan George’s words a little differently, though I believe the meaning is the same: ‘If you talk to the animals they will talk to you and you will come to know them. When you come to know them, you will love them, with respect, without fear. What one fears one destroys. What one loves one defends.'”

For more photos, visit UrbanCoyoteSquared: A Gallery.

ACTUAL BLOG WITH LATEST POST BEGINS BELOW

Father/Son Greetings

You might think that when a coyote father comes upon his one year old son out in the field alone, he might exude joy and recognition. But the answer is a firm, nope! There is protocol which must be followed. Parents must be in charge, and youngsters must at all times accept their lower status in a family pack which resides on a territory which is exclusively theirs.

This series of photos shows a typical greeting between an almost one-year-old son and his father.

Upon first seeing each other, Dad stares hard and coldly at his son, almost challengingly: he may be communicating to his son what is required of him. Son hits the ground submissively the minute he sees Dad approaching, and Dad’s “look”. Dad then approaches son slowly and carefully, and with a continuing glaringly hard look. The greeting is serious business in the coyote world, where rank matters above all else. Affection and fun can only come after the stage is set or confirmed for who is boss. Notice Dad’s hackles are up most of the time during this interaction.

When Dad stops approaching, son gets up part way and crawls towards Dad, submissively, keeping as low as possible. When he reaches Dad, he circles down, with head bowed down, and Dad comes over to sniff him and stand over him. They hold their positions for a moment (six photos above).

When Dad’s focus is diverted and broken by some distraction in the distance, son takes the opportunity to slither out from under Dad, but wait a minute! Dad doesn’t appear to be ready yet to let go of his psychological hold. Keeping himself low, Son  extends his snout for approval but decides it’s best to hit the ground again. This seems to satisfy Dad, because then son hops back up, and the two go trotting off together. Son will end up enticing Dad to play, which I’ll post coming up.

Responding

Most coyote activity usually begins after dark, but sometimes some family members are ready to begin their evening activities well before then. Yesterday, by late afternoon I found this young, almost-two-year-old female lying down in a field in the shadow of some bushes. She was very well concealed, but visible if you actually knew what you were looking for. She kept her eye on the passers-by in the distance, keeping her focus mostly on unleashed active dogs running energetically all over the place, but none came in her direction. Soon, grooming herself became her focus of activity –the bugs were bugging her!

She began getting up to better reach some of the irritating rascals on her body, then she lay back down. After several of these getting-up and then lying-down again cycles, she sat up, stretched, and slowly began to wander off.

She probably had been waiting there for the rest of her family. It’s a place they have met up frequently before heading out together in the evening, but today she was probably tired of waiting and decided to jump-start her activities. Even coyotes can get bored!

leaping after a sound she heard, but coming up empty handed

She walked calmly along, following the line of the bushes, and stopped sporadically at whatever movements caught her eye. A couple of times she bounced fast and high over tall grasses, a little like a jackrabbit, towards something that caught her interest, but the prospective meal never panned out. So she continued on.

She stops to listen

Everything seemed quiet when she suddenly stopped, turned around, and looked into the distance. She listened intently, and then she began calling out. In between her calling out, during the silences, far, far into the distance, I could barely hear two other coyotes calling out (you will also hear a couple of domestic dogs barking). Our young female was responding. This video covers her responding. Her sporadic vocalizations went on for a couple of minutes (this video is the entirety of it) even after the others had ceased their end of the communication. When she was through, she trotted off in their direction. They would meet and greet, as I’ve seen them so often do, and then head out together on their evening trekking expedition, sticking together for a while as a family, splitting apart at time, and then coming together throughout the evening and until dawn.

Each coyote’s voice and pattern of sounds is identifiable and distinguishable by the other coyotes — not dissimilar to the way you recognize voices over the telephone. I myself am able to identify some of the coyotes by their vocalizations. 

Friction Between Almost Two-Year-Old Siblings

They’re looking around as a siren blasts, waiting anxiously for family members to respond to it. There is no response from anyone this time, which might have left them a little worked up.

This posting is about twenty-month-old siblings (observed two months ago): a brother and a sister. There is another brother who appears to be best friends with this sister — unlike the brother in this posting, he’s gentle and doesn’t try to dominate: see tokens of respect and generosity are proffered and acknowledged in the coyote world. Coyotes get along with some of their siblings more than others, and it appears to be based on how they are treated. Friction can either grow and lead to a coyote’s dispersal — I’ve witnessed this a number of times — or it can mellow out again.

He approaches her provokingly and dominatingly. She snarls defensively.

Sister’s interactions today were with the brother who has had a tendency/predisposition to dominate. Today he tried putting her down — standing over her — dominating.. But she didn’t like it and wouldn’t have it. Coyotes actually choose who they want to submit to — they always have the choice of leaving. So, for instance, just the previous day, Mom stood over this daughter dominatingly, as you would expect — that’s her job — and Daughter patiently and willingly accepted and tolerated it: you don’t mess with Mom unless you want to lose your good standing in the family, and that good standing counts for a lot, such as ability to remain on the territory. And besides, Daughter appears to really like Mom and wants to be agreeable towards her: peaceful families require Mom and Dad to be strong, no-nonsense leaders whose authority is not questioned. They can only know they have this control if the youngsters submit to them willingly.

She ends up lunging at him, snapping at his snout (maybe even trying to grab it) and then moving off

Brothers are different, and especially this brother. He, too, kowtows easily to his parents. But not towards either of his siblings — and they don’t expect this of him. However, he does (has) of them. He constantly puts down the other brother, and the other brother (the sister’s favorite) tolerates it probably because he doesn’t want to rock the boat: if he stood up to the brother and lost, one can imagine that he might be forced to leave both the territory and his sister, whom he obviously cares for very much as revealed in his behavior towards her.

She lies down closeby and snarls at him as he approaches again. Then she walks off and he watches her go.

Dispersal is not something a youngster takes on lightly. It is a dangerous time due to the unfamiliar territory they would have to navigate, traffic, and hostile coyote territorial owners who would drive them away, and due to simply being young and inexperienced. Dispersal means taking on the unknown. So there’s a lot at stake in these squabbles. It’s interesting to watch which way it will go: the intolerable grudges lead to dispersals, and others dissipate if the bullying stops.

After the incidents of the day — him trying to put her down, and her resisting and “telling him off” with a lunge towards his face and a toothy and vocal snarl — I didn’t see them together for a couple of weeks. When I finally did see them together, from all appearances, it looked as though this pattern of behavior had continued, because Sister was keeping her distance and avoiding any contact with that brother (see photo below).

Two weeks later they still weren’t getting close to each other, but kept an eye on each other from a distance (see photo above). Sounds a little like human behavior, doesn’t it?? AND, two weeks after this photo, they are friends again, as if nothing had ever gone wrong!!

As of this posting, at 22 months of age, these two yearlings still remain a part of the family they grew up in: they seem to have overcome their friction and are perfectly mellow towards each other at this stage. Maybe Sis taught him a thing or two about coexistence among themselves!!

I should note that the sequence of behaviors I describe in the photos of this posting began after both coyotes listened and waited for other family members to respond to very loud sirens, but no one did. The tensions resulting from this anticipation were palpable, and may have been what set off the male coyote’s actions towards his sister.

© All information and photos in my postings come from my own original and first-hand documentation work which I am happy to share, with permission and with properly displayed credit: ©janetkessler/coyoteyipps.com.

Playtime and Fun For a Coyote Mated Pair

At the crack of dawn (with no light, I’m surprised these photos are even readable), this mated coyote pair, which has been together for a year now,  broke out into into a giggle-wiggle play session: they chased each other, lept over and onto each other, sparred playfully, and smiled a lot. They knew how to enjoy themselves thoroughly in and in-between-the-raindrops that fell that day. This is an almost 4-year old male and an almost 3 year old female who really like each other. They may be incorporating this intense play into their current courting behavior, but truth-be-told, they’ve been playing like this for the entire year-and-a-half they’ve been together! Coyotes know how to have fun! This video along with these photos were taken a month ago, at the beginning of January.

Winter Pawprints at Dawn


When I think of coyote footprints in the winter, I think of those left in crisp white snow. But we don’t have snow here in San Francisco (though we did 20 years ago: we all went out to take photos of it to use in our Season’s Greetings cards!). Their footprints can also be seen in mud. Wet footprints on pavement work just as well, as you can see here. These are one coyote’s footprints, though there were two coyotes trotting alongside each other at a hard-to-keep-up-with pace — they had direction and purpose to their gait, without seeming to actually hurry. I tried catching up but didn’t. They began their trot after howling first in response to each other — probably locating one another — and then continuing their howling in response to sirens (listen below). That’s how I knew where they were. They slithered by quickly, trying not to draw attention and were pretty successful — I just happened to be keeping my eye open for them after I heard them. I tried to record the quick glimpse I got of them (did a tree fall in the forest if none saw it?) — I caught only a blur of them scurrying over the meadow. They were already far and away by the time I reached the pavement where I last saw them.

I looked down and saw that, where they had been, had been imprinted as footprints on the pavement I now stood on — the female had remained walking on the grass, so these were the male’s. So I took a couple of photos of this dissipating record left behind by them and marveled at how evenly and symmetrically the front and back paws hit the ground — the back prints almost falling into the front prints, with just enough offset to create two clear prints. The prints were under 2 inches long. On soft ground, the two front claws would have imprinted, but not here on this hard pavement. On soft ground the back foot pad only creates a partial print — that was also hard to distinguish here. Each pair of prints must have been about a foot apart, though I didn’t measure, but should have. The footprints would soon also dissipate and disappear, but they remained for now, long enough for me to record them with my camera, even though the coyotes themselves were long gone — like a soft whisper, and unlike the cacophony that began this observation (apologies for the sound of my footsteps in the recording):

Mated pair communicate at dawn. This is only TWO coyotes!

It’s Mating Season, and things don’t always work

Right now it’s mating season for coyotes.  This is a once-a-year event, and actually distinguishes coyotes from dogs who have a twice-a-year reproductive cycle. Here is a short summary of the process.

An unattached female usually has several suitors, and it’s the female who then chooses among them: see Coyote Courtship by Walkaboutlou — in this story, the fella who brings her a gift of a rabbit is the one who wins her!! Then, usually, the pair remain together for life, but not always! See “Till Death Do Us Part?“.

In most instances, when the female is in heat, the male will closely and carefully guard her and stay with her. The earliest I’ve seen females reproduce is 2 years of age. The earliest I’ve seen males reproduce is 3 years of age. I’ve heard of them reproducing at a younger age, but I have never seen it myself.

Interestingly, coyote males only produce sperm at this one time of year. Producing that sperm is a two-month long process called spermatogenesis. They, too, become fertile at the same time the females do, and have only a very short window of opportunity in which to ‘perform’. It doesn’t appear that this “system” has limited the number of coyotes around!

Mating in coyotes involves a “tie”, which is how you know that it didn’t happen in the above video — the process was not completed in this video. The tie is where both coyotes become “locked” together for as long as 20 minutes — back end to back end. You can imagine that they are extremely vulnerable during these 20 minutes. In the video above, the male mounts the female, but obviously something isn’t right. He turns around to examine the problem or fix it, then they move out of the range of the camera.

As the time of birth approaches, the female will dig a den or find an appropriate alternative (expand another critter’s hole, find harborage under a rock or fallen tree trunk, etc.). During birth, she’ll want to be left alone, so the male waits or guards the area outside where birthing is taking place — I’ve seen males guard like this for about a week. See The Birthing Rock. During this time, the male often brings food to the female. Then, I’ve seen coyote mothers first emerge from their dens anywhere from one day to almost a week after they give birth.

Pups are born after a 63 day gestation period. I’ve seen as few as one and as many as seven pups born, with an average of 3 or 4. Of that larger litter, only four survived to disperse or move on. Survival rate can be as low as 20% in the wild, but it appears to be higher in urban areas. Pups are raised by both parents.  Lactation occurs until about June. As the pups are being weaned they are introduced to regurgitated food from their parents which eventually will be replaced with more and more solid food in the form of dead rodents and then live ones until the pups get the knack of hunting for themselves. However, I have seen a father coyote still regurgitating for his fully yearling pups!!

Pups are kept well hidden and as “secret” as possible until they attain some ability to take care of themselves.  Then they hunt together in twos or threes and eventually the youngsters will head off on hunting and explorational forays of their own. They disperse sometime between one and two years of age, usually. In the meantime, for the 1-2 years before dispersal, they live very full and rich family lives, with interactions between them, along with feelings that rival our own.

Evasive Action, by Walkaboutlou

Hi Janet,

I was saving this for a while as it’s in some ways hard to hear but it also shows how incredibly intelligent and resourceful coyote are.

Locally, coyote aren’t truly abundant. They are common, but usually not seen by day. Often hunted, our regional coyote lay low in most areas.

A few years ago a local pack of staghounds/greyhound types were started to periodically sweep through various areas and hunt coyote. These weren’t for “problem” coyotes in conflict with livestock or community. It was in essence, any coyote anywhere at anytime.

At 1st, the pack succeeded in catching a few from what I heard. But within months, a pattern developed that seems to show how fast coyote react to stress.

1st of all, the coyote now know instantly what a staghound type of dog looks like and what it’s for. They scatter and hide in the landscape.

Also, if they are flushed, they consistently run for dangerous areas. Cliffs, rivers, etc. They know exactly how to run full bore through deadly terrain. Most dogs have to stop.

Another evasive action-in one area, they beeline for areas where no hunting is allowed. And in same area go to sheep, and right to the LGD dogs. 2 staghounds were seriously mauled literally running straight toward the enormous guards.

And the coyote was allegedly seen watching from hillside before escaping.

Lastly, same tactic…but other coyote make a run for a local bison herd. As the coyote runs among them, they stare, and then literally the hounds have had to run for their life. Bison don’t enjoy pack of canines running among them. And incredibly, they can keep pace with greyhound. No hunting there!

Are cliffs, rivers, LGD or Bison all coincidence? I leave that for people to decide. The hunters have decided to take their dogs elsewhere. Here, coyotes it seems, utilize the local conditions in evasive actions.

Again and again and again I have seen coyote always respond instantly to a new danger or situation.

The local coyote won this situation. And the hounds literally created very fit and hardened coyote quickly.

At any rate, you can interpret that as you wish.

I do think running to Bison or LGD was intentionally done. Both are pretty grumpy about space and noise.

Lou🐾


Hi Lou!  Another great story! Thank you!! Yes, these guys are incredibly, what’s the word, innovative, at staying alive — brilliant survivors — and your story shows this superbly. Their intelligence is just amazing, but even more amazing is how so few humans know or accept this.

Yes…I agree. One of the greatest human weaknesses is most don’t “see” or accept that other beings are just as alive and feeling as they are. Coyote..especially, are vigorously, vibrantly, vehemently, alive. And they will instantly and constantly adapt to remain so.
Personally, I look at them as supreme examples of living, in so many ways.
Lou🐾

Rough terrain

Update: This Gypsy/Divorced Coyote Has Found Himself YET Another Home!

This posting covers the end of territory #4, territory #5 and the beginning of Territory #6. Most coyotes I’ve known retain their locations for years and years — but not this guy!

Here he is, only a few days ago, in his new home.

I last wrote about this fella, who I will call Monte here (I always use pronounceable names instead of numbers — they are easier to remember and don’t dehumanize them), after things had settled down a bit from the tumultuous events of a year ago: mating-for-life might be the norm in the coyote world, but it’s not hard-and-fast: see  Till Death Do Us Part? 

To sum up briefly, his mate had left him for another guy. Coyotes generally guard their mates during mating season, keeping all other suitors at bay. BUT, this fella was more interested in the food he was being offered daily than in guarding his mate. This required him to be away from his mate as he traveled the distance and then hung around for hours-on-end where he was being fed. He simply was not around her when the other guy came by and claimed her. In other words, he managed to neglected her entirely. Just like in the human world, coyote females (and males) respond to kindness, time, and attention: read Walkaboutlou’s courtship story about Slim Jim and Chica.

His ex (Maam) and her new mate (Blue) retained that old far-off territory (#4) — it was at the other end of the city — whereas HE moved back to a previously owned territory of his (#5), following in the wake of a son, Cape, who could not stay in that territory with Blue’s takeover. Cape had remained with his parents ever since his birth and over the previous two years, and now he was displaced from that territorial home (#4). He returned to the only other home he had ever known, and Monte followed several weeks later. At about the same time that they moved back, a 9-month old dispersing female, Vida, from another family joined them on that previously owned territory (#5) — this happened almost exactly a year ago. The threesome formed their own unique “family” and they all could be seen chasing and playing with each other happily and regularly, hunting, trekking together, and howling at the sirens and sometimes at dogs that upset them. This family continued this way on this territory for about eight months.

Some photos of him and his family in his previous life in 2020

And here, human feeding popped up again as a driving factor in this story. There was a hand-feeder who actually interacted regularly with this coyote on this territory #5. Our coyote, Monte, had learned to wait for and expect food from this person as part of his daily routine, as he had in his previous territory, but in this case, over several years and even before Monte left for territory #5, there had developed an eye-popping bond between feeder and coyote which I have never witnessed before, and I’ll be writing about it in another posting soon. I’ve already written profusely about the detrimental effects of feeding coyotes, and this coyote was a victim of that. See: Abused, and the linked articles therein.

As fate would have it, in October, that prolific hand-feeder died of cancer, and right after her ashes were spread (as she had requested), interestingly, Monte left. I don’t think he left solely because the feeder was gone, but I think the feeder’s disappearance was a major factor. It was also time to start looking for a mate: he had been without one for 8 months.  Upon his departure, the territory he had returned to and was living on with Vida and Cape reverted to — or was ceded to — those two younger coyotes: his son and also to the little female who had joined them.

And so our fellow Monte moved on to a new park where he wandered for awhile as an interloper until he found a niche and settled down there. He has lived here now for the past three months, with . . .  his new girl!! He had fallen off of my radar for a couple of months, so you can imagine my thrill when I finally found him with the help of some photos and sightings from other people. I’m sure only Monte and I carry his fascinating and convoluted story with us as a first-hand memory. To everyone else who doesn’t know him, he’s just another coyote, unless you’ve read about him here on my blog.

Here he is with his new mate, and as you can see in the lower photo, he (and she) are very interested in all those hormones which are soaring right now: he sniffs and licks, and she’s happy to let him do so. Mating season is about to begin, so I guess he’ll have another family.

Note that my work is accomplished visually and without the use of tags or radio-collars. I identify each coyote by their unique faces.  I use DNA analysis from scat (which will be analyzed by Monica Serrano at Dr. Benjamin Sacks’ lab at UC Davis) to confirm what I see. Although I haven’t been able to pick up Monte’s scat from every location, I have collected enough in most places, and then photos elsewhere, as hard-evidence of what I’ve found. See my most recent presentation.

© All information and photos in my postings come from my own original and first-hand documentation work which I am happy to share, with permission and with properly displayed credit: ©janetkessler/coyoteyipps.com.

Mom Tells Off Her Son, and Dad Stands By

The family was out together, all four of them: Mom, Dad, Daughter and her brother. It’s not often that we see the young daughter: she’s just not comfortable at this point being out when people look at her. The minute she feels noticed, she hurries off and disappears into the surrounding foliage.

Her brother also dislikes being watched. This makes a lot of sense: in the wild, if any animal looks at another animal, it’s probably a predator sizing it up as prey. But brother has become more tolerant of humans eyeing him than his sister. He might leave an area if he feels the focus is on him, but he inevitably returns to the same spot, especially if his parents are out there.

So after Sis left today, only Mom and Dad and Son were out. They wandered around a little, and then Dad moved further away from the others. Suddenly Mom was beating up Son: he was on his back and she was standing over him with teeth bared. Yikes! She seems to have a short temper recently.  She got annoyed at Dad recently while I was watching: I think simply because he bumped into her, maybe brushed against her or stepped on her heels. She not only snarled at him, but she then acted on her “words” and let him know who was boss by raising herself above him: it was an instance of interpersonal coyote communication and interactions showing HER emotional response to him, and HIS tolerance and total deference to her.

What happened with the youngster today? I didn’t see it, it happened very quickly, but probably the same thing. I’ve seen dogs get pretty upset when they’ve been bumped — nothing else but a clumsy bump — by another dog, and maybe something like this happened today. It’s probably disrespectful. Anyway, here are the photos of Mom letting little guy have it with snarls and growls. Dad soon arrived and seemed to take sides with Mom. He may have had to — if you know what I mean. In fact, Mom in this family is the “top dog”.

Eventually, after making sure Son got the message, the two parents walked off. And the little guy stayed behind. He looked dumbfounded, like he had no clue why that had been so intense: “What did I do?” But he knew he was not invited to follow his parents. Parents proceeded to walk around the periphery of their park together, and Son stayed right where he was, searching for gophers, alone.

Maybe this was just a temper-tantrum on Mom’s part — maybe she just wanted a little more respect from him? Then again, maybe she’s setting the stage for dispersal. The earliest dispersal I’ve seen occurred when a pup was nine-months old, which is what this pup is now. We’ll have to see what happens next..

© All information and photos in my postings come from my own original and first-hand documentation work which I am happy to share, with permission and with properly displayed credit: ©janetkessler/coyoteyipps.com.

 

Family Interrupted: Update

Last October I wrote about a “family interrupted”. A coyote mom, Bonnie, suddenly disappeared from her family (I’ll call this family #3), leaving three five-month-old pups and a very shy dad, Clyde. Territories are best defended by an alpha pair, but there was no longer a pair here to work as a defending team. Within a few short weeks, intruders (family #4) came and took over the territory. It’s actually a very complicated story: nothing is as cut-and-dry as it seems in the coyote world, and unless you are actually there to catch the nuances, you might miss the essence of what is going on.

The intruder males from what has been family #4 — consisting of an alpha male, Blue, an alpha female, Maam, and the male’s younger brother, Buff — were actually related to the disappeared mom, Bonnie, and had lived on this territory with her for over a year (as family #2) during the previous year, having migrated over from a nearby territory which they had occupied long-term until that point and still visited fairly regularly. I’m not sure what sparked their move from that other territory, but it could have been that the old alphas passed away or simply left — I’ve seen the abandoning of territories by older alphas a number of times (due either to a territorial battle, or even without such provocation). What remained of that family #2 — three siblings consisting of two males and a female — were able to move here from that nearby territory when the long-term previous alphas on this territory left. (I hope I haven’t lost you yet). That was family #1 on this territory. The dad, Ivan, had been here at least 12 years — the alpha female, Maya, was a more recent arrival. They appeared to have ceded the land to their two-year old daughter, who, even with repeated beatings and body slams by her mother, would not leave/disperse. So they (the alphas, Ivan and Maya) left.

This daughter, Sissy, attempted wooing one of the newcomer males (the dominant male from family #2), but this didn’t work out — yes, even coyotes are fickle and choosy in picking their lifelong mates. This male eventually and somehow became hostile towards Sissy. Sissy became scared, nervous and flighty, and then one day she was gone for good: the family of the fella she was trying to woo, took over (this is family #2). We had only ever seen the two males, Blue and Buff here, but now, with no females around, their sister, Bonnie, joined them.

At the end of about a year, the two brothers left, leaving Bonnie and her new mate, Clyde to claim the territory and raise their litter of three. The departed older brother, Blue, found a mate, Maam, and another territory, and younger brother, Buff, stayed with them. I don’t know which happened first: that Bonnie found Clyde and then the brothers left, or the other way around. At any rate, as Bonnie raised her litter, only her nuclear family (family #3) lived here.

But then Bonnie suddenly disappeared, as I stated above. The vacancy (semi-vacancy of the territory) caused by her absence apparently attracted the intruders.

Anyway, even if you can’t keep track of all that — and I must say, even I hardly can — what we have here now on this territory is a reconfigured family which includes one of Bonnie’s pups.

I was fascinated to watch one of Bonnie’s pups, Bolder, begging to be included in this family. I saw it happen. I can only guess that the youngster knew she had a greater chance of survival by joining the intruders.

So now we have this unusual family. It consists of a mom, Maam, a dad, Blue, and dad’s younger brother, Buff, and one of Bonnie’s offspring who is now 9 months old, a female I call Bolder. I have not seen Maam and Blue’s pups, though I know they had them because I saw Maam lactating in April and May. And up through today, I’ve not seen any of their youngsters trekking with their parents, which is normal as far as I have seen for almost all pups at this stage. In the few cases where I have seen the pups venture further with their parents — and yes, there are such individuals — I think it is due to a less wary personality, along with picking up behavioral fearlessness towards humans from their mostly fed parents.

This reconfigured family #5, then, has a hierarchy which runs from alpha Maam who is top dog, to the alpha Blue who is her mate, then her mate’s younger brother, Buff who is very submissive towards his older brother, but rather bold in other respects, and finally the little squirt, Bolder, who, although she keeps out of the way a lot of the time, she nevertheless travels with them sometimes. There seems to be a kind of push-pull in her relationship with the rest of family #5, and I get the impression from the others in that family that she’s considered a nuisance by them, though allowed to stay and hang on. I see her with them, but also I see her run from them in fear.

Very sporadically — but enough so that I know they are still around — I see Bolder’s dad, Clyde, and a brother of Bolder’s, Shier, so I’m still trying to figure out this territorial situation and these families.

And here are a couple of recent photos of that reconfigured family.

younger brother, older brother and alpha male, Bonnie’s female pup, alpha female [photo: Janti Sommer]

From left to right: alpha male older brother, pup, younger brother, alpha female [photo: Janti Sommer]

Update on Sparks

Sparks is alive and well in the Presidio where he has resided for several months now. I have followed him since his birth in 2019 where I watched him grow up with four siblings, and then through his dispersal journey much of which I’ve written about here on my blog (put “Sparks” into the search box). During his dispersal to date — a dispersal which began in March of 2020 — he stopped for weeks-on-end at various locations where he either remained temporarily with his sister (she returned to her birthplace), or in other locations he remained alone, and he even was accepted temporarily into an established alpha family (alpha mom, alpha dad, two of three remaining pups) where he interacted, played with, hunted with, and cuddled with the family he stayed with. He seems to get along well with new coyotes he meets. He always moved on. I have seen dispersing youngsters repulsed from established territories, so his situation has been very interesting for me.

And now he is at the Presidio where every evening he meets up with a little female coyote: they rendezvous and howl and yip before running off together for the evening’s activities. I have not identified his special friend yet. I’m wondering if this is his final home, or just another stopping place? He has been here for months, and in fact he had come through the area at the end of the summer and then left before returning and remaining. Maybe he left because of a broken arm he acquired at that time: I could not detect a limp when I last saw him.

The established alphas in the Presidio have been there over a year: Wired and Puff. They had three pups this year.  I’ve written about both of these coyotes before. I’m now trying to figure out Sparks’ current relationship with (position in) Wired’s family. Wired and Puff could easily have driven him out, but they didn’t, as hadn’t the previous family Sparks stayed with. Rather, he formed a warm friendship and bond with them. I wonder if he’s been “adopted” into Wired’s family (as he had been temporarily into Cai2’s family), or if he’s forming a family of his own. It seems that it might be beneficial for Wired and Puff to have an amicable neighbor such as Sparks who they get along with and like, rather than a hostile one. So maybe it’s being allowed on purpose. According to the territories I’ve worked out in San Francisco — they average about 1.5 square miles — the Presidio is actually big enough for more than one family.

Sparks’ story continues to unfold. In the middle of January, 2021, he was seen being driven away from the Presidio at dawn by the Presidio’s breeding alpha male — the two fled down Lyon Street which borders the Presidio, one chasing and the other fleeing. I have not seen this fellow since then. I will update as I can. :((

© All information and photos in my postings come from my own original and first-hand documentation work which I am happy to share, with permission and with properly displayed credit: ©janetkessler/coyoteyipps.com.

Zoom Talk: Coyotes in San Francisco: Population, Family Life, Stewardship

For those of you who wanted to come and missed it, here is the Zoom Talk I gave on Tuesday for the residents of North Beach in San Francisco. It covers the coyotes generally in San Francisco, with a short aside about the coyotes in North Beach. I received great compliments on the talk, and I’ve been asked to give it again in several other neighborhoods, with asides on those coyotes, so I will post dates for those talks as they come up. My presentations are all based on my own first-hand observations, along with my own photos, videos and maps of those observations, with just a few exceptions. New in this video (not covered in my previous talks or videos) is a section on my observations and documentation of coyote population dynamics here in San Francisco: how the population is divided and situated into discrete territories, and some of their dispersals. I am now collaborating in a City-wide population study at UC Davis.

Coyote Courtship, by Walkaboutlou

[Here’s a “Holiday Special”!  Hope it makes you smile as much as it did me. ]

Hi Janet,

I recently spoke with a good friend and ranch patriarch. His sunset of life is nearing. His fire turning to warm coals. But he is very comfortable and content. His sons all have taken up ranching. And ranching in time honored ways as well as innovative. One of these…is leaving coyote alone.

For over 90 years, coyote have not been allowed to be hunted or harassed on this vast ranch. They were taught…almost like dogs…lessons. By the ranchers and LGD and a culture of mutual respect..and enforcement…coyote have thrived here. The land has been utilized in ways that spacing and wild areas are maintained or created. It really is a place of balance for livestock and wildlife.

The Patriarch, especially..enjoyed coyote from childhood. He has known every coyote pack and most coyote there his whole life. He knows their family history and eras.

One story he loves to relay is watching a young coyote he knew since pup pick her mate after weeks of male courtship.

The images added to this story are not the of coyotes written about, but hopefully they will trigger your imaginations as to how those coyotes might have appeared. This is what I imagine  two-year old Chica to look like.

She arrived at a clearing in December, away from her very strict and territorial parents. She was almost 2 years.

She would mouse and listen to calls. Answer with her own. Within days..a pattern developed. She would arrive early..mouse and lounge…and the males would come. 1, 2, 3…….3 males eventually. Following her. Laying about her while she rested. Trying to play.  Trying to lure her away. Trying to disperse each other as rivals.

Each afternoon, she returned home. The courting males stopped at edge of her territory. There, Chica would endure hip slams from younger siblings, and slams from mother. Her mother seemed incensed by Chica’s scent of other males.

Chica would flee apologetic..and rest faraway from pack.

And the next day….same all over.

For over a month…this happened.

The Rancher noted the males. Handsome was new and big and very impressive. Big and robust. He was taller and bigger than most coyote. And had a grayish hue instead of the tans.  Then another male, named Zip. He seemed so fast and very restless. He literally trotted circles all day around the others and seemed almost overheated. The 3rd male was Slim Jim. Widowed in past year, 8 year old Slim Jim was outclassed a bit. His tattered ears and dull teeth didn’t better his impression.

The males increased competing. No fighting but definite jockeying for position and time with Chica.

Late January, only Handsome and Slim Jim were at hand. Zip had left…seen miles away days later. Slim Jim had bite marks on face. Hmmmm

The males followed Chica endlessly. She stopped going home. But Handsome seemed the right choice.

But then…Handsome and Slim Jim fought very briefly. It seemed Handsome won. But then he was pushy and aggressive to Chica in the next few hours. She ran from him. And Slim Jim hovered about. When Handsome was distracted, Slim Jim quietly groomed her neck. Just a moment.

That evening Slim Jim returned, JackRabbit in mouth. Chica ran to him and begged. He dropped the whole prize to her. And when Handsome tried to smell and take some…Chica turned on him…joined by Slim Jim.

They drove Handsome away hard. And with the jackrabbit and subsequent Handsome drive off…they became united.

Tattered Slim Jim had won a mate. He seemed renewed. His coat improved with her attention and grooming in the weeks to come. And Chica got to be Queen of a large and good territory.

The Rancher says seeing the courtship is one of his favorite memories. He had no clue….selection could take…..weeks!

Slim Jim and Chica showed him…every coyote..has real stories. Like us.

Enjoy the stories Janet!

Lou🐾

The images added to this story are not of the coyotes written about, but hopefully they will trigger your imaginations as to what those coyotes might have looked like. This is what I imagine Tattered Slim Jim to look like.

San Francisco COYOTES: WHERE they are, WHO they are, and HOW to get along

I’ve been invited to give a Zoom presentation at the end of the month on December 29th at 5pm.  I’ll talk about coyote population in San Francisco, family life, and guidelines for stewardship and coexistence — all based on my first-hand documentation work. Attendance will be limited, so contact me (jannyck@aol.com) soon if you’d like to be admitted.  Janet

Canine Interchange, by Walkaboutlou

Dogs and coyotes normally don’t like each other, and certainly don’t mingle, but this particular dog had enough “wild” in him to actually almost become a coyote for many years.

Hi Janet,

I recently touched base about a dog I knew. He was very unique in multiple ways. And worth noting…because he is father of many coyote.

Fuzz was husky x malamute x Australian shep x wolf mix. He lived on an enormous ranch. Very early on…Fuzz showed himself different. He could actually drive and work cattle with the other ranch dogs….but as he matured, he grew bored of cattle. He kept apart from the other dogs..and was allowed to roam as his family owned thousands of acres.The owner realized Fuzz wasn’t a worker and sold him. Fuzz went to a very good home.  And ditched his new owner asap on a hiking trip.

He traveled 200 miles back in 3 weeks, a little dirty and tired. But calm and looked at original owner like “oh hi”.

He was allowed to stay. He remained aloof and roamed his vast range. When he was around 3 years old, different family members [humans] kept seeing Fuzz…with coyotes.

This happened for weeks during the late winter…then it was just Fuzz, and a small female.

The owner realized…Fuzz was likely..courting this female. He had dispersed other male coyote. He was seen interacting with various coyote…and was part of that scene. A pattern developed. Fuzz stayed at ranch and slept at barn with cats often. But at evening..he left. Trail cameras showed him traveling with same female. Also mouse hunting. Fuzz also showed the female how to utilize LGD feeding stations, and interacted with LGD while she fed. One pic showed her eating cautiously and obviously lactating.

That Fall, Fuzz was seen with 5 very unique looking young coyote. One had a blue eye. And little Mom Coyote leading them all.

For at least 4 years, Fuzz and this coyote called Little Mom seemed to have litters together. There are many “big” coyote in the region [his offspring]. Unlike other coyote, they seem to fight ranch and hunting dogs hard. They are coyote..but with more “oomph” and boldness.

I was both bothered and intrigued by Fuzz consorting with coyote, and actually taking a mate. The genetic exchange has happened many times in east. And wild coyote genes absorb the influence smoothly.

But..obviously, locally..it affects the genetics of coyote. Behaviorally too. I do believe the Pups of Fuzz learned some boldness and craft from dad. They associated with him off and on years into adulthood. Trail cams show them traveling together. Eating road killed deer. And showing up in dispersal for years in other places.

I wish I could truly know…how the genetics of a husky malamute Australian shepherd wolf play out after 4 years and 4 litters. How long will those genetics persist? How far will they spread? And will they create “better” or “worse” coyote?

Ironically….Fuzz disappeared when wolves started traveling through the area. Little Mom seemed to disappear too. There were at least 4 wolves in area for several months. It would seem..Fuzz might have met his fate among them. But we’ll never know. He could have been shot far away, roaming. Or met a bear or cougar. Or an LGD he didn’t know. These free ranging dogs are mysterious sometimes.

What we do know…is that Fuzz was part of the coyote community 4 or 5 years. He bonded with a female. There were years of pups and strange dispersing. It’s not common. But it happens…more than we realize.

His owner says “sometimes family member’s go crazy and run away to join a carnival. You gotta let um be.”

I don’t think Fuzz was crazy. But he truly created some carnival canine coyote. I wonder at their futures. And at the convergence of canine genetics.

Always amazed….

Lou

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