Hiding, Carrion and Barking

All hunting that I have seen, until today, involved coyotes grabbing small voles or gophers, and then swallowing them whole after crunching them. There has been very little tearing apart of the prey. Today I watched a coyote tackle something much larger. It was well hidden in the tall grass, but I watched as the coyote shook its head to pull meat apart. When the coyote left, I went to the spot to find out what this might have been. It was a maggot infested skull: this was true carrion. It obviously had been there some time or it would not have had all the maggots. It was awful. I took photos but am not skilled enough to identify what type of animal it was. From what we have in the area, and from the size of the skull, I would say that it was probably a young raccoon, though it could have been a skunk.

As the coyote feasted, the coyote was well hidden from anyone’s view, tucked off deep in a bushy area — unless you knew it was there. However, it kept an eye on the surrounding area, popping its head down to eat, and up to assess if any danger may have come into play. I was concentrating on trying to figure out what the coyote was eating — hoping the coyote would lift it high enough above the tall grass for me to see — I did not see the prey until I looked for it later. Because of my concentration, I was not aware of the surroundings — I was only aware that the coyote was vigilant. Then, because of the coyote’s intent gaze in one direction, I glanced to the side and saw, just barely out of the corner of my eye, a brown dog’s swishing tail. The dog for sure had not chased the coyote, but it may have given some other indication that it was “onto” the coyote’s location. The coyote quickly descended into the adjacent open area and began an intense barking session.

In the past I have seen coyotes bark like this only when they have been pursued.  In this case, although there was no pursuit that I was able to see, the dog may have been one that had chased the coyote in the past, or the dog may have communicated an active awareness and “eyeing” of the coyote which threatened the coyote. That the coyote had been eating may be a factor that enters into the barking equation. The barking session lasted 3:50 minutes — I’ve mounted the entire session. It is a little tedious, but this is what it is like:  Barking Session.

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