Rest, Hunt, and Call From Mom?

Before dawn I saw two jumping and running movements in the distance. From where I was, it looked like they could have been cats, but I knew better. These were two young coyotes having fun — I could barely see them. As I moved down the trail I could see only one, sitting. Within seconds the other bounded out of the tall grass. The activity slowed down. The one which had been sitting walked over to a pile of cut straw in the middle of a small clearing. After circling once, it curled up on the ground — the way my dog has before lying down. The other one then bounded joyfully towards this one and leaped over the one lying down!! These young coyotes were happy. I’ve seen them happy many times: they show this through their sprightly jumps towards each other and facial expressions. It was too dark to see facial expressions this time, but my camera did catch one smile. The second coyote then curled up right next to the first, apparently for a nap and to wait. They put their heads down.

Sometimes I pointed my camera in their direction and saw nothing, but sometimes a head or both heads would pop up to look around and then the heads would be lowered again.

Then I saw one of the coyotes eyeing the ground in front of himself as it cocked its head from side to side — there must have been movement which caught his attention. This one jumped up and pounced twice, and then began to dig, moving the straw with its paws. Obviously this coyote had spotted either a vole or a gopher. It pursued this activity for some time. Interestingly, the other fellow remained totally calm and still, raising its head only to observe now and then. There was no prize at the end of the hunting session, so this coyote again curled up next to its sibling where they both remained quiet for a while.

And then, the exciting part: suddenly both coyotes bounced up with their joyful and enthusiastic leaps at the exact same time — as if they had been waiting for this — and they headed in the same direction in tandem and at a run. It was obvious to me that they had been called or summoned. Was it auditory? If so, I wonder what sort of call it was? I, of course, heard nothing — but it sure looked like an auditory signal they had responded to — the way my dog might have responded — and the enthusiasm they showed made me think it was their mother. Their departing leaps were the same as the energetic bounding that one had displayed towards its sibling above, and I have seen them respond to their mother this same way when they have approached her in the past. These young coyotes are one year old. They stick together a lot of the time, and they definitely are still part of the family unit they were born into.

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