Dad’s Son, by Charles Wood

Saturday as I arrived at the bridge I saw that I had already been spotted by one of my Los Angeles area coyotes.  It wasn’t glad to see me, sat and stared up.  It stood and began to urinate like a male.  Yet it wasn’t Dad.  It was a yearling male coyote!  I’ve named him Mister.

I had thought there were four coyotes in my field:  Mom, Dad and two female yearling coyotes, Bold and Shy.  I was wrong.  I didn’t realize that one of the survivors from last year’s litter was a male.  My previously posted video ( was also of the male coyote I saw Saturday, though I thought then that I was observing Bold.  I wasn’t.  It was Mister.

After first recognizing a male youngster, Mister, I wondered if he and Bold were the same coyote, wondered if I had Bold’s gender wrong.  On study, Mister has, like Dad, a lower lip with a black tip and Bold lacks that marking.  Shy has unique markings under her left eye and walks around with her mouth open.  Bold may also be a male, but “she” is not Mister and neither Bold nor Mister are Shy.


One reason in favor of my accepting three survivors from last year is that in August 2010 I took a photograph that appeared to have one too many youngsters in it, a youngster standing off at the side partly hidden by a bush while two other youngsters greeted Dad.  That mystery coyote didn’t participate in the greeting and vanished quickly.  Photographs are difficult to interpret and I felt there wasn’t enough evidence to allow myself a third survivor.  Unfortunately for me, I usually see one or two coyotes, three infrequently, four very rare.  I’m now willing to accept that the August 2010 photograph indeed shows a third surviving youngster from 2010’s litter of seven.


Mister was the only coyote I saw Saturday.  Evidently none of the others thought he needed any help, though some or all of them may have been there concealed.  One of Mister’s roles in child care is to keep me away, as they all do.  I had read that young males are driven off by their parents before the next litter is born:  not absolutely true.

Last year I didn’t see any undispersed youngsters around when the puppies emerged.  Nor did I see Mom and Dad together with the puppies, just saw Dad caring for them, from June to the end of August when I did see Mom again.  By the end of August I would see two youngsters and missed that there was a third.  Still, four of the puppies had apparently not survived through August.  I suspect that life is easier for Mom and Dad with some of last year’s puppies around to help with newborns and to defend their territory.

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. yipps
    Jun 19, 2011 @ 12:57:27

    Two young coyotes I watched two years ago were “girls” for almost a year until I saw this exact same pose!! In my case, the “new” male was actually what I thought had been one of the girls, and then the same identity change occurred with the other “female”. Janet


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