A Buffer Of Caution

Each coyote is a unique individual and therefore acts differently from any other coyote. But even individual coyote behavior can vary over time. Here, you have a coyote whose curiosity has remained rather constant, but there is much more caution in his behavior than there was several months ago.

I watched him observing three dogs in the far distance. The dogs were playing happily with each other. The coyote’s curiosity seemed to increase as he watched. So he excitedly bounded in their direction to get a better view. But the minute one of the dogs looked up at the coyote, the coyote changed his mind and turned back, finding a bush to half-hide behind. The coyote stayed back here, in this “protected” place and watched. In the past, being out in the open would not have been a problem for him. Interestingly, the dogs were over 300 feet away and there was a rocky barrier between them which could not have been crossed. Nonetheless, the coyote acted as if the dogs had access.

Soon the dogs and their owner departed. The coyote then cautiously came out into the open, almost “stalking” his way down the hill a few feet. Seeing that the coast was clear, he curled up, looked around for a while and then went to sleep!

This very “careful” behavior contrasts with what I had been seeing several months ago when we were seeing coyotes more often. Now they are seldom seen, and when they are, it is only briefly and at a great distance. And the coyotes have added an extra buffer of caution, or so it seems.

Teenage coyotes — those between the ages of one and two years —  explore and take chances which the younger and older coyotes seldom do. Maybe this is all that is involved here: teenager-hood is over. Or maybe there is a sense of unease after some of the coyotes dispersed, causing more cautious behavior? Whatever the reasons, there is a definite change in behavior.

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