“Dad Sighted” by Charles Wood

Friday September 24 I saw three of my coyotes.  I last saw Mom and a youngster September 13, and hadn’t seen Dad since August 31.  I had been seeing them fairly often for about a month.  I thought I understood their early evening rendezvous routine.  I felt I could count on seeing them almost daily at a particular time and place.  When I had come to that conclusion they stopped showing up.

In the 10 days since my last sighting I tried varying my visiting times.  Once I went after dark, walking with my dog heading south along the east side of the river, starting at the north end of the nature sanctuary.  About half way to their field, I heard some rustling in the dense wood and brush in the sanctuary.  I couldn’t see an animal even with my flashlight.  The rustling did morph into some obvious leaping, where brush and branches rattled for about two hundred feet at a lightening pace.  It sure sounded like a bounding coyote, evidently spooked by our presence.  A couple of times I went about an hour before sunset and wasn’t rewarded with a viewing.

Thursday September 23, impatient, I decided to enter their field.  Their field has their den and is south of a nature sanctuary.  I have observed them going in and out of that sanctuary and have also seen Dad and a youngster in an area to the north-west, across the river.  Before entering their field I visited that north-west section.  There I spotted some coyote scat on a dirt road.  I took a stick to turn it over and the dust underneath the scat was still damp.  It consisted of several fibrous palms seeds strung together with the usual brown material.  I wondered if my coyotes get enough to eat.  I then headed across the river and went south into their field.

Once in their field, I noticed more palm seed strewn scat on one of my coyotes’ roads.  I kept my dog on leash and walked south along their main dirt road.  I came to the area that has their den. A young coyote poked its head out of the dense brush, ears up and staring.  It held still for a moment and backed into the brush.  I left the field encouraged and waited on the river bank for an hour.  I didn’t see a thing.

The next day, Friday the 24th, as the sun was setting I watched from the river bank.  I hoped at least to see Dad who I hadn’t seen since the end of August.  Instead I had been seeing Mom.  There was a long period when the pups were first brought out that I would see them with Dad and never saw Mom.  I don’t consider it unusual to see only one parent.  I don’t have any certainty about why that should be so.

As soon as I arrived on the river bank Mom and a youngster showed up on the east-west dirt road.  Mom was fed up with something the youngster did and gave herself some space.  The two settled down for some waiting and watching.  I noticed Dad was near them.  I took a fairly clear shot of the youngster alone and recognize it as one of the two I saw in the rendezvous on August 31.  I’m hoping these three’s watching and waiting Friday is a clue that the other or other youngsters are still alive.  Friday’s youngster could not stay still.  Mom and Dad were vigilant yet also at times were curled up, their eyes either closed, looking down the dirt roads or looking at my dog and me.  The youngster was ignored by both Mom and Dad despite its attention seeking antics.  Mom and Dad had jobs and attended to them.

I’m thoroughly impressed by the consistency with which Mom and Dad do their jobs.  If their job is to sit still and wait, they sit still and wait.  If their job is to chase my dog and me off, they do.  I can’t imagine a coyote parent ever having to exhort “do as I say, not as I do!”  The youngster, obviously with “ants in its pants”, simply could not do as its parents and just sit still.  Yet it was not chided for ambling around.  Mom did snap at the youngster when in its amblings it disturbed her with body contact.  I read that as her saying “be a puppy, just don’t be one too close to me.”  In contrast, tonight Dad seemed better able to simply tune the youngster out, even when body contact was involved.

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.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Licking Palm Fronds « Coyote Yipps

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