[NOTE: In a coyote family, the designation of “dominant” “alpha” or “parent” are interchangeable. Coyote “packs” are actually not packs, but families — there really are no “packs” as there are packs of dogs, which where the members are mostly unrelated to one another, and which operate more as marauding gangsters or thugs. Coyote “families” are more like yours and mine, with parents and offspring. So, within the family, there will be parents who are in charge, and often one parent is more aware than the other.]
I zeroed in on a dominant mother coyote’s awareness and staying in control of her territory today. The day began with the coyote walking towards a dog which was trotting down the path — with one of the coyote’s year-old pups sauntering along behind the dog as if they were out on a hike together! The dominant coyote gave her bouncing warning display — thereby communicating what she wanted to communicate — and then marched off with the pup following her. It was the same display as in my posting of: Keep Away From Me.
The walker and dog continued their walk out of the area, the coyote pup disappeared, and I stayed to watch the dominant coyote perch high on a ledge where she kept a lookout on a place way across into the distance. After only about five minutes, the coyote leaped down and was off. I lost visual contact with her, but decided to head to the spot where she had been looking. Sure enough, that is where she had gone — she had followed her pups there, probably having seen them from the distance.
From here, she appeared to lead them all to another distant spot where they all stayed for a while. She kept an eye on the others who played and hunted. She did not participate, but sat down to watch. She watched the younger coyotes, and she watched a couple of dogs and walkers in the far distance. After about 15 minutes, she got up and began trotting back. She trotted in front of the other two — it was probably a signal to them — and they followed her to yet another area. At this point she curled up on a rock while one of the younger coyotes hunted for a few minutes and then disappeared as the other had.
Within a short time she got up, stretched, caught a couple of voles, then headed up to a bluff where she spent the next hour. She watched a few dogs on a trail below. As the morning wore on, several walkers and their dogs walked in the direct vicinity of the bluff, but on the path below it. When this happened, she sat up, or stood, to get a better view over the rocks. At a certain point, she began very soft, barely audible to me, but continuous “grunts” — as if she were preparing to bark. She was reacting to dogs, however distant they were from her; dogs which bothered her on some level.
This continued for some time, so I left to take photos of other wildlife close by. I was only about 300 feet away when she began an intense barking session, so I immediately returned. I could see a dog and walker on the path, but I had not seen what about them had provoked the coyote. The coyote barked for close to 20 minutes, then hopped down off her ledge and headed out of the picture for me. I had been watching her for almost four hours: I suppose she was “making her rounds.”
The picture I got was of a dominant mother coyote’s being very in charge of her life and very purposeful in her behaviors. She warded off a possible dog threat (not really a threat, but she was doing her job), she monitored the area from a high perch and kept her eyes on her pups who were far, far off in the distance. She ran hopped down and ran the distance to join them and then led them to an area for further hunting and playing. When she was ready to return she did so in such a way as to cause the pups to follow. She curled up in another area, always keeping vigilant of what was happening around her as the pups finished their hunting and then disappeared. Then she went up to another high ledge where she again, this time without the encumbrance of her pups, monitored dog activity, grunted when she became distressed, and then went into a full mode barking session as a statement of her presence and possibly a claim to her territoriality in that area. Then she hopped down and disappeared into the underbrush!