Some Thoughts: studying coyotes, individuality

A thought about studying animal life. I know it is the norm to interfere in an animal’s life to study it: to take the animal out of its environment, to handle it and mark it, to attach devices to it, to stick it in a cage or enclosure, to make it endure what we have in mind for it — basically to disrupt an animal’s life or interfere just because it is convenient for the study. Most of the time this is not necessary. When a coyote advocate suggested that we shoot colored paintballs at them so that we humans “could more easily identify each one” I became aware of how humans place their own desires and needs for convenience first, before that of the animal. Every single animal, when it is caught and handled by a human, is absolutely terrified for its life — no matter how short or humane the treatment might be called.

My point is that if we care for the animal, this should come first. It should come before our own needs, and it should come before our reputations in our fields of study. We do not need to disrupt or interfere in an animal’s life to learn about it. The animals can be studied, and probably to better effect, if they are just left alone, with their families, and in their territories. It is with their families and those they have bonded with that we can discover the richness of their emotional life and where the richness of interactive behavior can be found. Interfering disrupts every aspect of their lives and alters it, often absolutely.

I also think, unconventionally, that if you are particularly “into” an animal — seeing it with empathy and understanding — that it really knows this and develops a certain trust for you, so that it could very well be somewhat “into” you — allowing you a view what it might guard from others: this is a mutual respect relationship. Animals who reveal themselves to you, because they want to, will show you more about themselves than you could ever learn by simply watching them. Examples of this approach which I can think of include Jane Goodall and Farley Mowat, and there are others. I know this is considered totally inadequate and definitely contrary to scientific methods by many animal behaviorists, yet I’m seeing that more and more animal scientists are turning more and more in this direction. They now name the animals they work with instead of relying on numbers, and they recognize different individual personalities of each animal, and treat them with empathy.

Individual Personalities count as such a big factor when looking at behavior of any species. More and more people have been able to see this: just go to YouTube to see accounts of “individual” animals — individual personalities rather than what we have all learned as generalities. The problem with categorical descriptions is that people begin to actually SEE the categories instead of the truth. In human terms, this included blonds in the 60s, hippies in the 70s, blacks way back in history. The truth is that there is much more to an animal or human than a category or generalization; and generalizations that hold for a group are almost never entirely true for each individual.

Children and Coyotes

Somebody recently inquired about children and coyotes, specifically about how coyotes react to children. I don’t think it needs to be suggested to any parent to keep their kids far away from wildlife: be it raccoons or skunks or owls or coyotes — these can be vicious and can cause damage if they feel in danger. Proximity is sometimes the only trigger that is needed for the animal to feel threatened.

Children are more vulnerable to the vagaries of individual coyote behavior for several reasons. First, their small size makes them seem more approachable to coyotes. Second children are trustful, yet inexperienced and naive, with no skills for shooing a coyote off. Thirdly, children themselves are unpredictable in their active, flailing movements and noisiness: and this is a red flag to a coyote.

Coyotes, the same as dogs, like predictability and calm. Many dogs do not have the tempers for dealing with hyperactivity or unpredictability: cocker spaniels are especially known to bite children — mostly those in their own homes. My own large lab was lying down after a walk while a group of us adults were jabbering away as one kid bounced his basketball. No one was aware that the bouncing ball — the activity level and noise and unpredictability of where the ball went  – were driving the dog berserk, until the dog, in a flash, leaped up with a bark and punched the little boy in the stomach. This dog had never before given any indication that it would react this way. I’ve used these dog examples to help explain unpredictability and intolerance for hyperactivity — qualities I have seen coyotes react to in smaller dogs. Coyotes at rest will react by becoming tense and alert.

I once saw a coyote approach a children’s day camp. Although the coyote stayed outside the boundaries of the camp, it was definitely drawn to the noise and extreme activity level of the kids — it may have wanted to stop all the commotion. The coyote stood behind a creek and barked distressingly until the camp director went to it and shooed it away by flailing his arms, yelling at it and throwing small stones in its direction. The coyote had approached the camp because the noise and activity level were disturbing to it. Most coyotes will avoid such a site, but a dominant female, especially a mother of pups, who is monitoring her territory for safety, might do otherwise.

Most parents are very careful about protecting their children from possible mishaps, but I now have seen a parent with two children aged about 8 and 10, and on another occasion a grandparent of one 7 year old, walk their children fairly close to a resting coyote. It is not something I would recommend, even if the coyote is known to be a mild one, because wildlife has its own rules, and we don’t always know what these rules are.

Very seldom have coyotes bitten humans, but most of the bites that have occurred have been to children. Please teach your children to respect wildlife by giving it lots of space. And never feed wildlife. Feeding coyotes has been determined as the one ingredient which has caused coyotes to become aggressive towards humans.

A Coyote Watches Me: Coyote behavior

I watched this coyote stay back and watch as a bunch of walkers with their dogs came over a ridge. It remained totally still and it stayed back. The coyote was actually quite distant and camouflaged next to some bushes. Most coyotes maintain a safe distance for their own feelings of security. This one would not have been noticed by dogs or walkers if I hadn’t already spotted it and fixed my camera on it. I was told that I was what gave it away. Everyone leashed up their dogs. Then two of the walkers and their dogs continued walking on the path, at which point the coyote decided to head off, crossing the path in front of them — 100 feet ahead and disappearing over a hill.

I continued my walk and within a short time I found this same coyote grazing alone in the far distance. By grazing I mean that its concentration was on the ground in front of it. It didn’t even look up when I appeared — maybe I was too far away. It finally did look in my direction. I remained where I was and took photos. The coyote was curious, apparently, because it sat down, and then settled into a sphinx-like position to watch me. I pressed the shutter release, but made no other movements.  After not too long, the coyote got up again and trotted in my direction!!

I fleetingly thought to toss stones to dissuade it from coming my way, but it stopped. Coyotes can distinguish each dog and human they have encountered: I had seen this one a number of times before, and therefore it had seen me. Possibly it was curious about my standing so still and wanted a closer look. Also, might it have developed a trust because of my never having breached its critical space? It came to within about 50 feet this time — possibly within sniffing distance? I wonder. I stayed very still. When I did take ONE step to maintain my balance, the coyote tensed — it was obviously on alert. So the coyote examined me, intently gazing in my direction while keeping bushes between us, and then it slowly headed back to where it had been, and then into a thicket area, but first it looked back one more time!

Most coyotes I photograph just ignore me or move on. This is the first one that obviously came in my direction to check me out. It may have done this previously, much less obviously, but with other factors involved, such as dogs around, I cannot be sure. I have seen coyotes approach dogs to assess them, but this is the first one that actually appeared to want to assess me!!

Another thought occurred to me about this behavior. Coyotes learn quickly and thoroughly by watching, especially by watching their trusted mothers — watching from the distance and from hidden locations. This coyote’s mother has always allowed me to photograph her with total unconcern — she often has remained in a prone relaxed position, ignoring me and not moving off, as I clicked a-way. I use the word “ignore” because she really has acted as if I was not there: if something around drew her attention, she reacted and proceeded as if I was part of the woodwork. Might the younger coyote have observed its mother’s behavior, learned to identify me as benign, and now be testing its own safety around me — all based on its mother’s example? It is an idea that I thought was worth considering. Of course, maybe this coyote would have treated everyone this way, but I have not seen any coyote do this before. And I have not seen this coyote often enough to form a definite conclusion about it.

See posting of December 27th: “Sitting, Facing Away”

It’s a Boy!!

I have discovered, through zooming into a photograph, that the young coyote with the gaping mouth in some of the previous photos I posted is a male. I had named it “Brownie”, but it now will have to be “Bruno”!!

See photos from December 15th: “Communication”.

Two, a toy, hunting: Coyote behavior

I always feel lucky whenever I come across a coyote in any of our parks — no matter how much “luck” I’ve already had. But I feel ecstatically lucky whenever I see more than one coyote at a time — this is really unusual. Yet, I have had this experience a handful of times now, and in three different places. These two coyotes here in these photos stayed fairly hidden behind trees and twigs. They stayed close together — venturing away from each other for only short hunting forays or explorations. They followed one another a lot, and one played with a toy while the other watched. The toy only became apparent later on when I zoomed-in the photos.

I also caught two together out hunting as they hit upon the same gopher hole. They were not there long, but ONE got the prize. After this there was a very short “I want it” competition and a short chase in circles. The winner ran off, out of reach of the other, and lay down to enjoy a meal while the other remained back and watched. After the meal, the two were again together searching for more goodies at the same locations.

At the end of the year, litter mates born in the spring are still together. I have not seen last year’s pups around since November — have they dispersed? People in the parks have seldom been seeing coyotes lately — possibly just because it is winter.

Thank You Everyone For Your Support!

I wanted to thank the people who have complimented and endorsed my observations and photography in various ways. I think the very best was being called a “were coyote” and then a “coyote whisperer!” Also “nature lady” and “coyote lady”.  I hope that the individuals who made these remarks know how very special they are for me.

In addition, that I’ve been invited to exhibit my photos and that so many people have asked if they could come along with me to observe are also supreme compliments. I do need everyone to know that my activity with wild animals is a solitary one — I do not take anyone with me, ever, because this would be disruptive to behaviors I’m trying to record, and it would be a distraction for my own concentration: I try to catch the small details when I observe. Also, it is just a matter of luck whether or not I even encounter one of these animals on any particular day in any of the parks or open spaces.

Dogs and walkers who frequent the parks are a big part of my observations. They might be seen as interferences, but these are necessary “interferences” which actually help me by bringing out different coyote behaviors: they are a vital ingredient in urban coyote behavior studies.  And even the human behaviors which are associated with both their dogs and coyotes in a park are intricately related to some of the coyote behaviors I’m studying, and almost as interesting!! The equation for understanding urban coyote behavior is definitely a tripartite one: coyotes, dogs, humans.

Along with the positive, there have been some negative reactions too. But our Animal Care and Control Department told me that I should even see these as positive: “Hey, look at it this way:  the message we are trying to get across we know is being heard because of you.”  The message: never feed wildlife, keep pets leashed and keep a safe distance.

This blog and all my photos are a means to an end: celebrating and preserving these wild animals in our city. With plenty of photos that show what they are like, and with a better understanding of their behaviors, I’m hoping that coyotes will be more appreciated and respected, especially those which have chosen urban settings for their homes. With just a little bit of understanding and a little bit of give on our part, coexistence can work well!

Sitting, Facing Away: Coyote behavior

Various coyotes have sat with their backs towards me, occasionally looking at me over their shoulders, but basically sitting facing away. Three coyotes have done this on several occasions.

Previously I had seen that when they sat this way, their attention was diverted to something more important that they were keeping their eyes on, and that since my behavior was a given, I could be ignored. Usually they were looking out for other dogs or other coyotes and each other. But this last time I had no real indication that the coyote’s attention was being diverted elsewhere.

I initially thought that it might be searching the distance for one of its own, but soon I no longer felt that this was what was going on. And, why would it have walked right into my space to do this? Based on the circumstances and on the trust for me that this coyote probably had developed by seeing me never intrude into its space when I photographed, I concluded that this posture had been assumed very deliberately, possibly to communicate its trust or acceptance? Of course, maybe the coyote was testing me, or maybe there was no reason whatsoever, but my gut feeling went with my first interpretation. See the photos above.

Shortly after I had taken the last of these photos, a walker appeared from in back of me, a walker whose dog was tugging at the leash and gaping towards the coyote. The coyote’s stance and behavior changed — I wanted to include this as a contrast to the sitting and facing away behavior I just described. The coyote now got up and faced the intruders  – the coyote obviously knew the dog was restrained by the leash — it did not seem overly alarmed, but it felt wary enough to get up and keep its eyes on them.  As the owner walked on, the coyote walked and ran alongside them, about 25 to 50 feet off. If this dog had been off the leash, it would have chased the coyote — it was tugging and lunging towards the coyote.

So, the coyote followed, seemingly in order to observe and comprehend and maybe even to test what might happen, or maybe even to taunt — I don’t really know, I’m just thinking of likely possibilities. The dog was showing its desire to pursue the coyote, lunging and pulling at the leash, but it was not doing so because it was restrained. Coyotes can read a dog’s intention well, so this contradiction between intention and behavior may have been a bit of a mystery for this coyote. This coyote was about eight months old and still learning. After a short distance the coyote lost interest and ran up a hill and out of sight. I have seen another coyote comprehend that a restrained dog would not chase it — the coyote actually lay down in their presence as they walked by.

A Hunting Episode

This coyote was lolling around — it didn’t seem particularly directed in its activities. I found it standing on a path. Upon seeing me, it lay down — it was obviously not pressed for time. After a while, it trotted up on a sidewalk and then to an area under some trees. Here, from this hidden position, sitting with ears and eyes ahead, it watched a couple of dogs who could not see it. I was in a position where I could see that, only 10 feet away from the coyote, there was a slight, but obvious movement of a few blades of grass. Since nothing else around the area moved, I knew there was a gopher underground fixing up its home. Since the coyote didn’t seem to see it, I ignored it too.

The coyote finally yawned and stretched — I have seen them do this when they have decided to move on. As it did so, its head  swiveled right over the gopher’s area — and its attention was snagged. For ten minutes this coyote “triangulated”, cocking its head from side to side and watching the ground. It was very patient. Finally, I could see the coyote’s limbs tighten and UP it went and then down it came, head first into the gopher hole. I believe, but I don’t know for sure, that coyotes deliver a stunning bite to their prey with this initial attack. The coyote did not end up with a gopher initially. But it dug this way and that way, very quickly, and then stuck its snout in the hole several times. It finally had the gopher.

The gopher was tossed to the ground and “bitten” several times. It was carried off a few feet and this tossing and biting was repeated. Finally it picked up the very large gopher, now limp, in its mouth. It walked a few paces, stood there a moment, and then ran down the hill in the direction of its den. Yes, it had pups — but these were about eight months old now. Still, this mother coyote must have decided that she wanted to make life easier for them — I don’t know if this prolonged feeding is normal or not.  As she ran along her path, a man appeared, but he did not see her. The coyote quickly changed directions to avoid him and was off into the distance.

High School, Where Interests Develop

As I photographed a cooperative coyote, Melissa approached. She had never in her life seen a coyote before. We watched together. She was very quiet, so I told her what I knew: basically that they were not aggressive unless chased by dogs, that they just went about their lives as we do.  I asked her if she was in high school, and she said yes, Mission High School. I asked her if she liked the school. She did. I asked her if her courses were interesting, and she again said yes. I asked her what she was interested in and she immediately said animals! She asked if the coyote had a family and I told her probably so, but they were not in this spot at this time. Ah, I remembered my own interest in animals in high school, and why I did not pursue this.

So I told her of my own interest in animals, especially my interest in animal behavior, and specifically that of dolphins when I was her age. BUT, I told her that in biology class, we had to dissect a live fish, and I could not do it. Frogs would be next, so this was the end of my career in biology. Melissa told me that she could not dissect live animals either, no matter that they didn’t know what was going on. So I told her that nowadays, she could still study animals without going the biology route — possibly animal behavior, ecology or animal psychology. She seemed interested. She was quiet, but wide-eyed. I hope her coyote encounter and chat with me were doors that opened new possibilities for her. Good luck to Melissa!

A Scuffle Imprinted on a Path: Coyote behavior

Coyotes have been hard to spot these days: I think it might have to do with the winter weather and short days. Anyway, evidence still can be found of their presence. For instance, today by simply looking at the ground I was able to tell that there had been a scuffle between a coyote and a raccoon. This series of photos was taken along about 25 feet of a path. As I walked, I noticed scratch marks — groups of them. I noticed them casually at first, but they stuck in my mind as being unusual. And then it struck me what they were about, so I went back, and sure enough, found all the pieces of the puzzle.

The first three coyote prints are obvious: the middle two claws on the front paws point inward. The second four photos are obviously raccoon prints: they look somewhat like human hands and feet with lots of padding, but they are much smaller. The rest of the photos include “puncture” holes to the earth, deep claw grooves, and scratch marks at the same location — these tell the tale, they tell me what went on. It had rained the day before, which had prepared the ground for retaining these imprints. You can see parts of human boot imprints.

I did not find a raccoon carcass, nor did I see any blood, so the raccoon probably got away. The raccoon print was a very large one, which means the raccoon was large. This indicates that it was probably an older one with experience. Although the coyote might have been an older one, it is more likely in this area that it was young and inexperienced. At any rate, the coyotes in this area are small. Thus, the raccoon had the advantage. By the way, raccoons can be ferocious and have been known to kill dogs.

Indirect Signs of A Coyote’s Presence: Coyote tracks and scat are indirect visual signs of their presence. In addition, rustling in the bushes is a sign of their presence which can be heard and distinguished if you are in tune with it. And sometimes you might catch a dark darting movement out of the corner of your eye, but when you look again, it is gone. One would never register such a perception without knowing beforehand what it might have been — it was probably not just your imagination playing tricks on you.


Yuck!! Coyote Scat is a sign of their presence

Coyote scat is not beautiful, but it is a tell-tale sign that coyotes are around. I am adding a blurb here, just for the record. Most coyote scat is long with rope-like twists. It usually is about 3/4″ thick, it is usually sectioned for a total of five to eight inches in length and it ends in an elongated point — this is a gross generalization. It has this form because it is loaded with fur. If the scat is broken apart, the fur becomes even more obvious — not like a dog’s feces. Coyotes eat entire animals, so the indigestible fur is expelled. Coyote scat has a variety of looks: one form I don’t have here is a soft globby pile, often with seeds. Coyotes are opportunistic eaters, which means they will eat whatever they can; and what goes in must come out. Coyote scat has a very distinct “musty” smell — it does not smell at all like dog poop. It’s color runs from greenish to blackish, but I’ve also seen some brown. Unpleasant though the topic might be, coyotes suffer from bouts of diarrhea now and then. I’ve wondered if this is caused by carrion that has gone bad, or by some human food that they might have found.

Coyote scat has been used by Professor Ben Sacks of UC Davis. He has extracted the DNA from the scat to identify what larger group the coyote belongs to, and therefore from where it originated. So scat has very high profile scientific uses! Owl pellets — the undigested portions of an eaten animal that is coughed up by owls — is also studied in detail to help determine exactly what the owl eats. Coyote scat is studied in this way, too.

Join my pack? Coyote behavior

I’m remembering an incident that occurred way before I began this blog, about two years ago, when I met a coyote for the first time ever. I want to include it here because of the interspecies dynamics involving dog, coyote and human. It involved the first coyote I ever encountered, a coyote which seemed desperately bent on meeting my dog. We always encountered this coyote at the same spot, where it must have expected us — why else would we always encounter it right there? We almost always saw it before daylight. This coyote had performed for us — for me and my dog — several times previously: it had bounced up and down, it had leaped, it had turned and spun in circles — always stopping to see how we were reacting. I always watched these performances, enchanted and approvingly. A couple of times, when we arrived after daylight had broken, this coyote sat in the grass in the distance and watched my dog explore and forage. Yes, mine was a foraging dog. And my dog was not interested in the coyote. This behavior I have just described here occurred several times in the month since I had first encountered it.

On this particular day, we were early. It was pitch black outside. My dog and I were walking along a trail beside the road, separated from the road by a barrier. I saw the coyote ahead, on the trail, so I slowed down. The coyote saw us coming and actually curled up right on the path 50 feet in front of us. I knew that the coyote wanted to watch my dog. I stayed back and took photos — bad photos with my then point-and-shoot camera — but my dog continued on. As my dog approached the coyote, we could hear the sound of a car engine approaching — something unusual for this time of day. The coyote decided to cross over the barrier just as the car with its bright headlights came up the road. The blinding headlights obviously confused the coyote. “Oh no!”  I called out: “We have to get away from the road, come”.

And this is where my interest in coyote behavior really kicked in. My dog followed me, but so did the coyote. It seemingly knew that I was leading it away from danger, it seemingly had submitted to my guidance — as if I were the pack leader — it had copied my dog. I headed towards a grassy area away from the road, and when I looked back: my dog was following me, and behind him, there was the coyote, sauntering along, as if it had joined my pack. The possibility that this is what happened has remained with me ever since that morning. I wanted to write it down. Once we were away from the road, the coyote tried unsuccessfully to engage my dog playfully several times, but then sat and watched. My dog, as usual, ignored the coyote: this was normal behavior for each of them.

Stealthy behavior in the dark: Coyote behavior

Today I was up way before dawn, so I headed out to see what kind of day it would turn into. It was dark and clear when I left home in the car. As I reached the top of a ridge it was both dark and foggy. Not too foggy, but foggy enough to create a glow around the street lights in the distance. The San Francisco area has wonderful diverse microclimates which can all be found at the same point in time within half a mile of each other. On one of the exposed roads it was windy, lower down it was totally windless. In a swampy area it was ten degrees colder than elsewhere.

I reached my intended park where I encountered a fellow walker and his dog — the only other pre-dawn walker I have come across — and we began to talk. We stood still, remaining in the same spot as we conversed. It was still dark. We then moved on, and as we did so, a form materialized out of the shadows about 40 feet away. The coyote was barely discernible at first and not initially easy to identify because of its stance and the way it was moving. After seeing the coyote for a moment, my first thought was that something was wrong, that maybe the coyote was sick or had been injured. The stance is one I’ve seen coyotes assume, but not maintain for any length of time. This coyote maintained it for this entire encounter. It had its hackles up, its back was curved up high while it kept its head down — it was a strong U-shape, and it was walking on tip toes very slowly and deliberately. It approached the dog that was with us within about 15 feet, but never got closer. Occasionally it pulled its lips back to show its teeth in a menacing sort of way: the coyote was messaging the dog, but the dog wasn’t picking up on the message. The dog ignored the coyote and continued walking on the path in front of us. The coyote backed up along the path, keeping its distance, keeping its eyes on the dog, and remaining in its hunched over position. It did not run off, but remained about 40 feet ahead. Then as we kept walking away from the coyote, the coyote disappeared off to the side somewhere after which we did not see it. It did not follow the dog.

This coyote must have been observing us the entire time we had been conversing in the one spot. It obviously did not like the dog lingering there. I actually had a totally different feeling from this coyote encounter than what I have experienced in the past — maybe because of the darkness, but also maybe because of the stealthy nature of the animal. I remained in the park, but the coyote did not approach anyone else — in fact, it is unlikely that anyone else even saw it while I was there. Later on I noticed it in the distance, just for a moment, where it looked perfectly fine and normal. It had been much too dark to take photos. Over the next little while I was able to tell that this was a coyote messaging the dog to get away. It’s so simple to respect the message. When we walk in the parks, we are invading the only place they have to live.

Coyote Signs

Statistically, coyotes are not a danger to humans. However, signs have been posted on various trails in and around the San Francisco area to let people know that they are around. In these areas it is best to keep our dogs leashed. Although coyotes tend to ignore humans, they do see dogs as potential threats to their territories. The most important rule we have learned about coyotes is to never, never, ever feed them. Breaking this one rule is what upsets the natural balance and often leads to aggression towards humans.

The signs only seem to appear in areas close to urban settings, where one might not expect these animals to appear. I still run into people who are astonished that a city would have much wildlife at all, much less a coyote. Coyotes have not been associated with urban environments until fairly recently. However, in outlying areas, where coyotes have always been a natural part of the environment, signs of this sort are not posted, as far as I have seen.

Communication: Coyote behavior

I clicked away at three coyotes I saw this morning — not a usual sight. I really couldn’t see much detail until I got home and blew up the photos. It is the zoomed-in photos that allowed me to see what was going on — but not what it was about. One of the coyotes had a wide gaping mouth in many of the shots — it is almost a smile if you look at the eyes: possibly a need to comply? This one also tended to keep its ears low and out to the sides. Another coyote had its teeth bared and lips pulled back — the others followed this one as it eventually walked up the hill. The third coyote stood back and stayed back further. I would think that a snarl and baring of teeth would either signify displeasure, or it may have been a threat or even a command, but I did not have time to observe long enough to be able to say for sure. There was also body contact as two of them walked side by side. The coyotes followed each other at first, and then slowly, one by one, they slithered or bounded into the brush.

What Does The Yipping Mean?? I wanted to mention another behavior which surprised me. I was at one end of a park photographing a juvenile coyote which was hunting. The coyote caught a muddy gopher and carried to the middle of a hill where the coyote lay down to eat it, right there in an open area of grass, in plain view. When the coyote was finished, it began wandering on the hillside. As it did so, I heard the coyote’s mother begin an intense barking episode on the other side of the park. It flashed through my mind that I might be able to see how coyotes react to “communication”.

But there was NO reaction whatsoever: no hiding, n running towards or away from the barking, no tensing up. There was total unconcern, and absolutely no change in this coyote’s meanderings on the hillside. When I reached the other side of the park, sure enough the mom had been chased by a dog and was letting everyone know that she was upset. She ended up climbing to the top of some high rocks where she continued her barking for 20 minutes or so. So, obviously, the barking was not a communication to other coyotes. It was just a display to the dog who had chased her. Also, could it have been an emotional release?

Then, the very next day, I was in the vicinity of the mom who was basking in the sun in her normal fashion, when coyote yipping began across the canyon. This would have to have been one of her offspring. In this case, the mom did sit up and listen, cocking her ears back and forth, but she remained put, and eventually lay down to bask some more. The yipping went on for about ten minutes. It appeared that the mom could assess the danger of the situation from the yipping she was hearing. I have seen a non-yipping situation where this mom raced down the hill to aid her pup who was being chased by a dog. Hmm, coyotes seem to be able to size up the danger of a situation pretty accurately.

See entry on December 28th: “It’s a Boy!”

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