“Hello Goodbye” by Charles Wood

I had a chance meeting with a coyote today near Pacific Coast Highway in Orange County.  Everything went right.  Holtz, my dog, was on leash.  We saw the coyote and it saw us.  To me it appeared to be self-possessed, mature and experienced.  There was no excitement, no chase.  Instead, the coyote was calm and left.

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.

A Squirrel Hunt In The ‘Hood Yields Zero

I came upon these two as they rushed off suddenly and excitedly. Something was up. They had been sauntering along when there was a sudden change in their energy. I watched them as they watched and went after a squirrel: backing up into the street to get a better view, and then rushing into the bushes, repeatedly. There was little chance of capturing the squirrel, even though it was two to one, but they gave it their all. After ten minutes, one of the coyotes stood up tall, looked around, and then hurried off very purposefully. The chase was over — patience only lasts for so long.

Eyes And Ears, by Charles Wood

Today Holtz and I came across a new coyote.  We were all in an easement north west across the river from my Los Angeles area coyotes’ main field.  I’ve seen members of my group only occasionally in the easement I visited today.  Holtz was off leash as we walked.  A little ahead of me, he spotted something close by and out of my view.  Holtz made a dash for it.  I called him back, leashed him and walked over to see what, on the other side of a large tumbleweed, he had encountered.  I saw a female coyote, older and larger than any of mine, exiting the easement to trot off south down the riverbed.  We followed her for a block and a half as she boldly traveled the asphalt path along the river.  A jogger was ahead of her, and the “New One” photograph shows her as a confident animal who continued to move toward the stopped jogger as he, well, what?

I was in that area earlier in January with Holtz off leash.  He was to my north foraging in brush, out of my sight, when he started barking.  I recognized his bark as the kind he uses on dogs.  In mid bark he yelped once and went silent.  I called him, moving north.  He didn’t come.  I stopped and wondered which way to go.  I worried.  Holtz then came out of the brush to my south, pleased with himself.  I wondered how he got to my rear and why.  I guessed he had encountered a coyote and found it wasn’t intimidated by his bark.  I guessed that he learned a coyote can quickly maneuver and inflict a thump.  I believed my calls and movement encouraged the coyote to run south.  Holtz probably chased the coyote at the pace Holtz uses when he really doesn’t want to catch up.

It is difficult to interpret canine sounds, especially when they aren’t in view.  Today Holt’s demeanor suggested he saw a coyote and I was able to confirm such by sighting it myself.  In contrast, with only my ears to rely on, I can only speculate based on how well I know the meanings communicated by my dog’s various vocalizations.  When the event is over the only debriefing I get from my dog comes from trying to assess his body language.

After we stopped following the new coyote today we went to my coyotes’ field.  I was lucky enough to spot the smaller of the two youngsters.  It’s timid and upon seeing us headed straight into the brush.  I last saw it six weeks ago, which was also when I last saw Mom and Dad.  The larger youngster I saw three times a week or so ago.  Apparently there is a place in this world for large bold coyotes and small timid ones.  Who could have predicted that of the seven pups these two so very different ones would become the survivors?

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.

Cain and Abel

Sibling rivalry exists in almost all families, and in almost all species. The first baby eagle born makes it his job to push the others out of the nest. Fratricide is the most extreme result of sibling rivalry. But before that point is reached, a sibling might be driven by another sibling from what had been his home.

This is the best-case scenario I can think of, in a coyote family which I have been observing for two years now. The more submissive of the twin male siblings had been bullied and dominated for several months. Although when this happened he would always increase the distance between himself and his brother, more recently he had been standing up for himself by growling and snapping back, and even remaining close by — as if stating that he wasn’t going to be pushed around. Then, one morning, I heard unusual coyote sounds: these were complaining-like squeals which lasted about five minutes before petering out totally. Charles Wood has suggested that those squeals might have been from the type of fight that produced the rump wounds I had seen and posted earlier on. I don’t know if this is related or not, but the day I heard those sounds marks the last time I saw the more submissive of the two coyote siblings which I had come to know as a family. Until that point, he was the one that was most visible and out in the open. His disappearance was very sudden and very total.

Did he just disperse, or did something worse come to pass? Charles Wood has suggested another possibility: that this coyote might have been banished from contact but not from the area — hiding in the day and eating at night. If I see him again I will post it, but it has been a month now since I last saw him. Worst-case scenarios also exist, brought to mind by hearsay and conversations I’ve had with individuals in the parks. Although highly unlikely, these possibilities include kidnapping either for breeding purposes or as bait for pit bull fighting — an illegal practice which continues in this area, or even removal by park visitors who have been wanting coyotes “relocated” for some time. Let’s cross our fingers that any of these is not the case.

Looks Like Maybe Three’s A Crowd

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There are 39 slides in the sequence above. The lighter coyote is the Mom who is fairly neutral — she looks away most of the time. But the two others are diametrically opposed in their behaviors: they are male sibling rivals.

The more submissive coyote usually has his ears back or down, showing his submissiveness. He runs off when threatened, sometimes bares his teeth or snaps at the aggressor, hits the ground, and twice reaches out towards the neutral mother.

The dominant aggressor rushes at the submissive guy. He keeps his tail high, stands high, appears overpowering, has an intense gaze, pursues, pushes, mounts, knocks to the ground and generally bullies. He also pushes himself between the other two to keep them apart! The sequence here lasted about 13 minutes.

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