A Day Away From “The Dog Show”

Today I was able to follow a couple of the coyotes for a couple of hours. Each day is totally different from the last, and the sum of them all gives a more rounded picture of what an urban coyote’s daily routine is like. Yesterday I watched these same coyotes remain distant from the crowds of dog walkers, but on a hill overlooking them. The walkers and dogs were very aware of the coyotes, and the coyotes were very aware of the dogs, each observing the other from the safety of the distance: maybe 500 feet away instead of the more usual 200. That was yesterday.

Over time, several of us have noticed that it is often the earliest walker in the parks who “wakes up” the coyotes. Coyotes appear not to be around, and then suddenly, shortly after the first walker goes by where they are, the coyotes appear. Today it was I who created the first stirrings. Suddenly there was one coyote sitting and then lying on a hill, and as it got lighter I saw that actually there were two “piles” of coyotes: a onesome and a twosome. There were no greetings that occurred while I was there, so I got the impression that they had been there a long time — maybe they had slept there. Unusually, I heard one of the coyotes sneeze loudly a couple of times. By the time I could see them fairly clearly — though it was still too dark for the camera to work — first one, then all headed down the hill and onto the main trail in the  park towards the front of the park. No one else was there.

I went in their direction and found them “setting up” to watch for when the dogs and walkers would arrive.  One coyote perched on a hill and sat facing the main path, while the other two meandered close by. However, today, unlike yesterday, there were very few dog walkers who came to the park early on! It must have been boring!! Watching dogs is one of the coyotes’ favorite entertainments. But other things did happen.

While still sitting at this front part of the park, a lone walker with his leashed dog headed up the grassy hill, off the trail, towards the coyotes, both dog and owner eyeing the coyotes intently. We could not figure out why the dog owner was doing this. He got halfway up the hill, saw us, and decided to turn back. Mmmm. The coyotes watched them intently as they headed away and we did not see them again.

Before my friend decided to head home, one of the coyotes came towards his dog which was walking on a path away from the coyotes. The owner was surprised: “I’ll be darn.”  The dog was called and came right away, so the coyote was left on the path looking at both the dog and owner. It was one of the teenage coyotes and its intentions were obviously friendly. Still it is best not to let dogs and coyotes interact. My friend left, so I too, headed away, but in the opposite direction.

When I next looked up, the coyotes, too, had dispersed from the area, but I was able to watch them in a number of other areas and get a feeling for the kind of morning it was for them. I soon spotted one on a rocky cliff as another dog and walker came by me. He leashed his dog, and both coyote and dog eyed each other with interest until the dog walker and dog went on.

Soon I spotted two of the coyotes close to a curb beside the park. They were keeping track of each other’s hunting activities.  One hunted without results and peed — in disgust? —  on the useless hunting spot before looking up to find the other which had disappeared from view. Oh well, it went on alone.

It is at this time that this coyote headed into the street, crossing it and jaunting along — and barely getting missed by a car. It then ventured into the street, walking along its edge for the length of a block. Fortunately, not other cars came by while it was on the street.

Coyotes cover some ground during their day, and today was no exception. The coyote which was not hit by the car began meandering along some of its routine pathways, when it came across its sibling sitting calmly in the middle of a path. Both coyotes froze and stared at each other for over a minute. These two teenagers have been working out their hierarchy, so bullying is something I’ve been seeing a lot of. I was wondering if something of this nature was going to ensue, but it did not. The dominating guy then walked towards the guy sitting down, but he then just went right by him — no greeting or joy at all: something which was standard in the past. They both started walking in the same direction, but not really together. But the less dominant one became diverted and walked into an overgrown brushy area off to the side of the path. There was loud rustling. The dominating one remained and curiously watched, but then walked calmly on. I went on with the dominating fellow.

When this coyote had reached the other end of the park, he became alert, ears up, and perfectly still and tall. I knew he had become transfixed by a squirrel — a squirrel he has seen often. Experience with this particular squirrel, which I have seen before, caused the coyote to give up pretty quickly.

The coyote was headed towards one of its hideouts when a walker appeared. “Wow, a coyote” you could feel him think from his stance. The coyote was not so thrilled, but stood perfectly still as did the observer. After a few moments, the observer was very careful to go way around the coyote, taking some photos on the way. The minute he was gone a woman and large unleashed dog came sauntering along — the coyote was still on the edge of the path. The other coyote had re-appeared close by. I suggested that she leash her dog. It was fascinating that she would not do so until she spotted the coyotes, which took her some time to do. These coyotes are very well camouflaged. She had never seen coyotes before and was fascinated. I told her a little about them. By this point the coyotes had had enough input and disappeared into the bushes. That was the end of my observing for the day.

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