Perplexed And Fascinated By A Sibling’s Activity

I watched a pair of siblings actively descend a hill. But the similarity in energy and activity stopped there. The first to arrive on the trail stopped to wait for the other. When the second one arrived, he did not turn or wait for the first one at all. He ran straight for a bush area where he energetically sniffed, jumped about, pushed his way through. He remained in this spot engaged in this activity, while the first coyote watched, perplexed and fascinated by this siblings activity. The activity and the watching lasted for four full minutes.

“Mom Intensifies”, by Charles Wood

Friday evening I watched from the river bank looking east.  I stood at the chain link fence that separates their field from the bike path that runs the length of their field.  With me was my dog, Holtz.  We watched a dirt road about 130 yards from us, a road often used by my coyotes.  I hoped to see youngsters.  Instead I had an encounter with Mom.

I watched for a while and saw no coyotes.  Suddenly Mom was at the chain link fence, confronting us.  Holtz slipped his leash.  He barked and chased Mom south along the fence.  I ran and retrieved him.  Mom returned to face us.

I have observed her for a little more than a year.  Upon seeing me last Sunday she was content to mark and perform a short mock charge, the first aggression she had shown towards us.  Friday evening her display was intense.

My past impressions of her were of a timid coyote.  Her display this evening differed little from the Dad’s aggression.  She didn’t vocalize where Dad often does.  The fur on her back was raised, yet not as extremely as Dad’s.  She urinated whereas Dad usually drops scat.  Like Dad, she scraped dirt repeatedly, prowled back and forth and included a yawn in her performance.  She then withdrew to watch us.  What she saw was Holtz and me retreat north.

It was too dark to see if she stayed put or followed.  I took the bike path under the east-west main street.  As I emerged on the north side a bicyclist called to me that I was being followed by a coyote.  She had gone under the bridge, though it was too dark there for me to see her.  I reached for my flashlight and found I had lost it.

This evening was the first time Mom was out of her field on the bike path.  The bicyclist kept me appraised of her position.  He soon said she was looking at him from the top of the southern embankment of the east-west street.  By the time I reached him she was gone, presumably back to her field.  I went to my car and left.

It is important to remember that my coyotes specifically direct their aggression towards my dog and me.  Many travel the bike path on foot or bicycle and never see my coyotes.  A few people visit their field and are not bothered by the coyotes.  In contrast, the coyotes recognize me as an individual who, with his dog, while frequenting their field, got too close to their pups.  Until that event, I was able to visit their field and rarely saw coyotes.  When I did see them, they saw me and avoided me.  Clearly I transgressed and am singled out for negative treatment.  Perhaps the value of my experience with them is as an example of how to not behave towards coyotes.  Don’t, as I have done, continually bother a wild animal with its young.  Doing so brings risks that are difficult to manage.  My primary motive was to photograph them.  To do so, I ignored the best advice and the best advice is that when you see a coyote, avoid it and let it avoid you.

Posting written by Charles Wood. Visit Charles Wood’s website for these and more coyote photos: Charles Wood. His work is copyrighted and may only be used with his explicit permission.

Battling Mosquitos

It was only because the same thing was going on with me that I understood what was happening with a coyote, barely visible up on the horizon at twilight. The photos are not too good because of the great distance and dark hour.  I myself was contending with swarms of mosquitos, and they were winning. I looked up to see this coyote engaged in its own mosquito battle: the coyote was repeatedly snapping at them, batting them with a paw, shaking itself, rubbing its face and twitching its ears. The final remedy that worked was to get up and move on: it worked for me. It probably worked for this coyote!

More Frolicking Fun and Exuberance!

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“Just Mom Returning South”, by Charles Wood

Sunday I observed from the bridge looking north into the 100 acre sanctuary.  My goal was to photograph one or more of my coyotes scooting under a chain link fence’s gate.  The fence encloses the sanctuary.  The gate allows service vehicles and coyotes to pass between the areas to the north and to the south.

Mom came sauntering down the road towards the gate.  I lifted my camera and she halted at once.  She stared at me for a few moments and sat down.  Coyotes are able to sit and watch for lengths of time unendurable to me in fading light.  Just the evening before she and two others had fled south from the northern area and had ignored my presence.  Now she walked and sat as though she owned the north.  I crossed the street to look south from the bridge.  I hoped at least to get a picture of her passing into their field.

I waited a quarter hour before seeing her.  She surprised me.  I didn’t see her passing into their field.  Instead she popped out of the brush moving east to west just south of the bridge.  Then she bent her front legs and sprung her shoulders up, front legs rising almost off the ground.  Her display conveyed displeasure and was followed by her marking dirt.  These aggressive displays were the first I’ve received from her.  She calmed down and lingered long enough to be photographed.  The flash startled her though from that she recovered quickly.  Then she continued south and, before going very far, left the road for cover.  I neither saw nor heard other coyotes and left in just under another hour.

Posting written by Charles Wood. Visit Charles Wood’s website for these and more coyote photos: Charles Wood. His work is copyrighted and may only be used with his explicit permission.

Life Is A Dance

In a carnivorous world, one life must end so that another may live. There can’t be judgement about this: nature is set up this way. This coyote is joyfully celebrating its “catch”.  The choreography was precise and smooth, with one slight movement seamlessly blending into the next. The whole was a graceful dance, enriched by the coyote’s sheer jubilance. I’ve seen many happy coyotes in our urban settings.

“Packs” and “Pups”: Terminology

It’s interesting that the English language has so many different names for groups of animals and animal babies. Coyotes in a group are referred to as packs, routs, bands or trains of coyotes. Baby coyotes are referred to as pups or whelps. I thought I would list just a few other animals that most of us see pretty often in our area. The collective nouns often refer to the animal’s home, but these are often used synonymously for referring to the group.

  • bats:  a cloud or colony of bats, their babies are called pups
  • butterflies: a swarm or rabble or kaleidoscope or flutter or rainbow of butterflies
  • crows: a murder, muster, hover, horde, parcel or parliament of crows, the baby is a chick
  • ducks: a raft, paddling or bunch of ducks on water; a team, brace, bed, flight or flock of ducks in flight
  • foxes: a skulk, cloud, troop, leash, earth or company of foxes, the baby is a kit
  • frogs: army, knot or colony of frogs; frog babies are called tadpoles, polliwogs, or froglets
  • geese: a gaggle or flock of geese. In the air they are called a skein, team or wedge of geese; in water they are referred to as a plump of geese
  • hawks: an aerie, cast, kettle, boil (two or more) of hawks, the hawk baby is an eyas. A hawk male is called a tiercel, the female is called a hen
  • herons: a scattering, seige or sedge of herons
  • humans: clan, crowd, family, community, gag, mob, tribe, country, etc., depending on how we want to divide them up: there are lots of nuances.
  • hummingbirds: a charm of hummingbirds, the baby is called a chick
  • moles: a labor of moles, the baby is a pup
  • opossum male is a jack, the female is a jill and the baby a joey. They are marsupials, the same as kangaroos whose baby’s also are called joeys
  • owls:  a parliament, study, stare or wisdom of owls; a baby owl is an owlet or fledgling (once it has flown)
  • raccoons: a nursery or gaze of raccoons, the baby is a cub
  • rats: a horde or mischief of rats, the baby is called a pup, pinkie, or kitten
  • ravens: an unkindness of ravens
  • skunks:  a surfeit of skunks; a baby skunk is a kit
  • snakes: a bed, nest, pit, slither, knot of snakes; a baby is a brook, snakelet, neonate, hatchling
  • pelicans: a squadron, pod or scoop of pelicans
  • quail: a bevy, drift or covey of quail
  • squirrels: a dray (its sleeping quarters) or scurry of squirrels, babies are pups, kits, or kittens (female is called a doe)
  • turtles: a bale, dole, nest or turn of turtles
  • woodpeckers: a descent of woodpeckers

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