Continued Camaraderie Between Siblings & Yelping

Today I passed two one-year-old twin brother coyotes. What stood out is the amazing camaraderie between them. I’ve seen these two alone individually about the same amount of times that I have seen them together. When they are together they seem totally involved with the other, keeping track of what the other is doing and “joining in” with the other if it looks like fun.

These two noticed me and then ignored me, as usual. One continued walking, but since the other stayed behind to observe, the first came back rather than go on. They both then wandered around separately within my view. One pooped on the trail and then entered the tall grass where he apparently looked for food. The other walked by, and, seeing the one in the tall grass, “pounced in” after it — it was an enthusiastic leap. The grass was tall, so this coyote could not possibly have seen prey from his location, but he pounced in anyway to be with his brother, I think. They both then hunted together. I didn’t see that they caught anything at all. One then came out of the grass and walked a way on the trail. The other then came out, smelled the poop left earlier on the trail by his brother, and then headed away from me down a path, then waited for the other, and the other ecstatically followed.  Further on, where the path diverged, one kept going and the other turned off, but kept his eye on the first. This is when I lost track of both of them.

An hour later I saw their mother in this same location: coyote family life and mutual support is very strong, even after the pups reach a year of age. I wondered if she were looking for them, or monitoring for dog activity. Suddenly I heard a “group yelping” that I had never heard before. Although it sounded like five or six coyotes, I know that it could only have been the two young coyotes I had seen earlier. The minute the mother heard them, she was off in their direction. So this “yelping” was a communication — different from the “barking” which had not elicited a behavioral reaction from other coyotes except for a mild perking up of the ears.

Yelping. The “yelping” was not the “barking” that we are so used to in our urban parks. The “barking” has always been a result of having been chased by a dog: a complaining and possibly a statement of “leave me alone”. This “yelping”, on the other hand, lasted only a minute and had a distinct tone of complaining: could it have been that they, the comrades, were fighting over some food? According to Wyman Meinzer, it is at food caches that hierarchies between coyotes are broken and new orders are established. I wonder if this is what might have been going on? I went to the area where I thought the yelping might have come from, but couldn’t find the coyotes. I then walked along the street where I asked a man if he had heard them. He had just come back in the car from walking his dog and had not heard them, but his wife had. Her thought was that after a “kill” this is how the coyotes called the others. Hmmm. I myself have only seen gophers and voles become prey. I’m wondering now about this “yelping” as communication/calling, and if possibly it might have involved a larger animal of prey such as a skunk? The mother definitely had responded to the “yelping”, whereas I have seen her totally ignore “barking”  from another coyote — each had communicated something totally different.

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