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:
More

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

Lugubrious Howl After Picking Up An Unwelcome Scent

 

Kicking dirt after his howl (with a youngster beside him)

This lugubrious howl capped extensive and intense sniffing by the resident alpha male of his territorial area. He had been picking-up the scent and following it fervently for several days, and I wondered what was going on. Right before the howl, his nose again was to the ground as he zig-zagged intently over the area. Immediately following the howl, he “kicked” the ground: he was clearly angry, but whomever he was angry at was not present.

Nose to the ground, following the scent

The intense sniffing occurred regularly for several days.

My initial thought was that a wayward dog might be causing alarm, but seldom have I seen dogs here. HOWEVER, the day after the recording, I spotted an intruder female yearling sniffing through the area evasively. She was a coyote I knew. Recognizable facial features apart, she was encumbered with a hefty radio-collar. These are used only in only one park in San Francisco — most of our city coyotes are free of them. So I’ll take this opportunity to say a little about her.

She had been “babysitter” for her own younger siblings born this year in her park several miles away. Pups in the city are more than five-months old now and require less looking-after, so relieved of this responsibility, she is freer to explore away from her home. Might she be making tentative steps at dispersal and looking for an unfilled niche within the city? She’s a year-and-a-half old and ready to move out on her own. Her brother, apparently, dispersed out of the city, dozens of miles south. On the contrary, this gal has been making forays within the city since March, but she always returns home (per Jonathan Young).

The yearling interloper

Might the howl have been either a warning to the intruder, or at least a vocalization of discontentment — the same as when coyotes howl after having been chased by a dog? Most intruders are chased off by resident coyotes — this is what I normally see — but if it happened here, I was not there to see it.

Papa’s five-month old pups.

Whatever was going on seems to have been resolved for the time being. I say this because the very next day this papa left the area for the day, leaving three youngsters and mom there alone. He would not have done so had there been danger lurking nearby. Leaving them for day-long intervals has been a routine behavior of his over the last couple of months, so things seemed back to normal and calm again. The youngsters seemed to know how to take care of themselves by doing what youngsters do best: playing chase and wrestling with each other, and keeping (fairly) hidden.

If the sniffing and howling were indeed because of the intruder, I wonder how serious of an infraction the intrusion was? My only clues that there was a problem were the alpha male’s repeated intense sniffing and his mournful howl, and then the intruder’s appearance. She has not re-appeared and neither has the intense sniffing behavior. Whatever was going on, no longer is.

A Boyfriend for A Loner!

My friend Ilana contacted me after she saw two coyotes where there had only been one ever before. Our loner coyote, a female, has lived reclusively — reclusively when it comes to other coyotes but not people or cars — in one of our parks for two and a half years. Suddenly and for the first time, she was seen walking in the company of another coyote! This is very exciting! I hurried over to the park to take a look, even though it was late at night.

She’s on the right smiling at her new beau!

Because it was nighttime, I saw some wildlife which I don’t normally see during daylight hours: for instance, a barn owl, beautifully white in the light of a streetlamp, fluttering kitelike above its prey, and two raccoons stealthily weaving their way around parked cars and over a cyclone fence on their way somewhere.

Within minutes, I spotted the loner coyote and then the newcomer. They stuck pretty much together. An acquaintance happened along and held my flashlight so that I was able to take a record shot in the dead of darkness. I didn’t know if the coyote’s would be a one-night visit, or something more permanent.

The next morning I returned and saw them again, well after dawn. First, I saw the loner by herself. She sniffed something enticingly-smelly in the middle of an intersection, so she wallowed and rubbed herself on it: perfume for the occasion??  Fortunately, it was Saturday, so traffic was light. She then disappeared into some bushes and soon re-appeared, this time with the newcomer right behind her. It appears that he’s planning on staying a while. My friend Gary’s running club appeared at that moment and I was able to share the event, and the excitement thereof, with them.

When the loner emerged with her new friend, she exuded happiness. It was apparent that, to her, the newcomer was more than welcome here. She was totally solicitous towards him. They went trotting off: I’m sure she was showing him around. Her attention and gaze were regularly in his direction. Repeatedly she extended her snout in his direction in a show of happy acceptance, and they both smiled most of the time. Only once, that I saw — and I was continually watching — did he push back, which surprised her no end, as revealed in her facial expression in this photo I captured (below). Might she have been a bit overbearing in her welcoming behavior? She backed off a little and everything became balanced again.

The resident loner (on the right in all these photos) kept looking at the newcomer as if to say, “Isn’t this fun?”, and reaching with her snout in his direction.

Only once was she told to “cool it”!

The coyotes spent the bulk of their time together hunting, playing chase with each other, and trekking the length of the park. The most amazing part of it was to see how happy they were, especially the loner: she was smiling ear to ear almost every time I saw her; she kept looking at him to make sure he, too, was having a good time, and she became playful frequently to show how much she liked having him there. Walkers in the park were enchanted: TWO now!

Chasing, play, and just being together.

The newcomer is skilled at hunting, especially leaping for prey

Twice she was chased by dogs — this is par for a morning — while he sat in the background and watched. He did not go to her aid, which many coyotes wilI do. In both cases, the exhausted dogs gave up: no dog can maneuver the hills as lithely as a coyote who doesn’t have bulk or pounds weighing her down.

What is on everyone’s mind, I know because everyone is asking me, is pups. Whoa! Coyote females come into heat just once a year in January or February. Our loner is old enough to have pups now at 3 1/2 years of age. Males, interestingly, produce sperm, also, only at this one time of year through a process called spermatogenesis which lasts two months. Males tend to wait to reproduce until they are about 4 years old is what I have seen. We have no idea how old this male is, except that he is at least 1 1/2 years old — he is obviously not young enough to have been born this year.  If he is as old as our female or older, we could have pups next April. If he is younger, it won’t be for a while.

My hope is that paying attention to him might help curtail some of the attention the loner has been paying to human activity, dogs, and cars. Wouldn’t that be nice?!

Please, everyone, keep your dogs away from them: the minute you see a coyote, shorten your leash and walk away. You could pick up a small dog as you walk away. For an introduction to coexistence, watch: Coyotes As Neighbors: What To Know and Do. For How To Handle Coyote Encounters: A Primer, press for the flyer by that name. To learn a little about coyote family life, read this short article which appeared in WildCare Magazine: Inside A Coyote Family

A Newly Discarded Bike Tire Inspires A Coyote’s Inner Child

Here are fifteen slides of fun: investigating and testing yet another discovered novelty! Note the tentative approach with touching, poking, and at first, grabbing the tire only minimally by a torn tire tread, all the while with hackles up and ready to bolt if the need should arise.

This is serious business — getting to tame and know her environment — in this case a bike tire!!  :)) The best way to see these slides is to click on the first one and then scroll through them.

Which Limb Hurts, or Do All Three?

I first observed that there was a left back-leg injury as seen in this video, but over the course of a couple of hours, three different limbs were held up at various times, as seen in the photos below.

It could be that this two-year-old stressed her forelimbs as she moved about on only three due to the back-leg injury. Or, could she possibly have stepped into a field of thorns, or something like that, which might have affected all of these limbs, and the front limbs only minorly? Or, is it possible that she could be holding up a front paw to let all the other coyotes know that she has been injured? I say this because I know of dogs who switch the leg they hold up even though only one leg was hurt (in one case it was because the bandage was changed to the other leg!) I don’t know the answer.

Only the back-leg limp persisted for longer than the day.  Full weight was applied only gradually at the end of a week and soon she was fine. I’ve noted that limb injuries are not that uncommon in coyotes.

Novelty Spurs A Super Playtime At The Rendezvous

A while back I was told by someone with some animal behavior training, that “novelty” is something coyotes stay away from. That novelty and smelly human socks were things coyotes avoided and therefore could be used to drive coyotes away.

Actually, the opposite seems to be true. I’ve seen coyotes absolutely delight in smelly old human shoes, their socks, coats and hats: they tend to actually be attracted to these things and to anything novel, including balloons waving in the wind, and even large objects like huge dirt piles and tractors — and no matter that the size and configuration of the huge dirt piles changed daily over a five day period, that the tractors were never in the same places, that the huge log piles grew and then slowly disappeared over a five day period, the coyotes returned for their play there day after day.

The morning that I took these photos, a huge, deep hole had been dug into the very level ground. It went down as deep as the piled up dirt was high. You can’t really tell from my photo, but the pit is very deep. My fear when I saw the hole was that if I, or a coyote from the family which roams the area were to slide in, there would be no getting out without help. Luckily, everyone was sure-footed and no one fell in!

So, after the tractors had done their work in the morning, I arrived at the huge pit and dirt pile. It was rendezvous time, which is the evening get-together when coyotes meet-up for play, grooming, re-confirming their family positions and eventually trekking. At the allotted time — and I must say that I don’t know how each coyote knows to appear at about the same time because they emerge from different areas of the park — possibly they’re just waiting and watching — they raced excitedly and playfully towards each other with greetings.

Initial play and greetings before heading over to the novel items

Their greetings were full of fun, as usual, and then they headed straight over to the three huge tractors and dirt pile that hadn’t been there the day before, where they exploded in play: running around as though these things had been placed there specifically for their enjoyment! They ran and chased each other along the top ridge of the dirt, and up and down, they explored the tractors, they explored and clambered all over the high wood-pile. And they smiled at all their fun. They did not avoid anything new, and it all was new. Enjoy the fun!

Smiling and happy after an intense chase on the ridge of the dirt pile

The Howl That Didn’t Happen

 

The sirens sounded and the coyote listened. He became alert, and he listened some more with perked up ears as he looked around. Eventually he stood up and stretched his neck and head up and opened his jaws. He repeated this, but the howl never came. After lowering his head for a moment — possibly he was relaxing for a second — he did it again: he stretched his neck up, pointing his snout to the skies and opened his jaws . . . and he did this several times again, but I guess he just wasn’t into it today. So he circled around and lay down again, as though the siren had never sounded.

Eating Himalayan Blackberries in San Francisco

Notice how gingerly the coyotes move around. That’s because thorns hurt them as much as they hurt us humans. Both coyotes carefully rummage through the patch of berries, picking just those that are perfectly ripe and delicious. They spent over half an hour doing so.

I’ve been noticing a lot of fruit seeds in coyote droppings everywhere lately, so coyotes all over are enjoying summer fruit. What I don’t know is if they are being drawn to the fruit simply because it is delicious and they like it, or if it is because their usual rodent pickings are scarcer at this time.

Please note that Himalayan Blackberries are an important food source, not just for coyotes, but for all sorts of wildlife, including birds, AND even we humans love to pick and eat them. They are a Horn-of-Plenty for so many species, not only as a food source, but also as an impenetrable, thorny thicket, which serves as a protective habitat barrier for wildlife from dogs and humans. It tends to be invasive, so it may need to be controlled in places, but let’s think twice about altogether exterminating such a useful plant.

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