Monday my leashed dog Holtz and I went into my Los Angeles area coyotes’ field. A man headed toward the east end of the field with his dinner. He asked me if the coyotes were still coming in there. I said they do and that I had seen some last night. He walked on in and I got settled. Mister and one of his siblings soon came north towards me. Mister wasn’t happy and immediately ran towards me. My friend Lynne and her dog were watching from the bridge. It unsettles me to see one of my coyotes running towards Holtz and me. I know they are going to stop short, yet I still feel a little like turning and running. I wonder if an intruder coyote would turn and run upon seeing Mister’s territorial display. Mister stopped short, as they all have in the past, and delivered a message. He hovered over it for a long while and I had thought he was heaping on a lot more. He wasn’t. Although his eyes were on my friend, his ears were on Holtz and me, which I think was an interesting choice.
It is hard for me to reconcile Mister’s warning behavior with his rendezvous joy. Is this tough guy the same coyote that wiggly squiggles with his mom and dad? He is tough with me. After giving us his message he ran back south some. Then he started barking and yipping, doing so until I left. Meanwhile his companion was hidden.
When I disturb a pair, one typically warns while the other either hides or backs off a bit. I don’t think the one that doesn’t warn lacks courage. I think it waits as a reserve force. I think so because when meeting paired Mom and Dad, they trade off as to who warns and who holds back. Whether Mom or Dad, the one who warns is probably the one who feels the most irritated by me that day.
A few years ago I ran into a fellow in a wetlands area. He told me he had once been surrounded there by eight provocative coyotes near where we were standing. Feeling uneasy, I asked him what he did to get out of that situation. He said he picked up some rocks. I looked around and didn’t see any rocks handy. I asked him where he got the rocks. His girlfriend’s jaw dropped, her eyes bugged out and she stepped back. The fellow’s answer was embarrassed and vague. I didn’t believe his story. In fact, in that same general area, I once did happen upon a number of coyotes (I didn’t count them). One came forward to bark and yip while several waited to its rear. It was easy to walk away with leashed Holtz and none of the coyotes followed.
I’m not sure who Mister teamed with Monday, its photograph was unclear. Yet it seemed to have Mister’s lower lip black bubble, which I thought was a trait shared only with Dad. Yet Mister’s Monday companion almost certainly wasn’t Dad, the size and the eyes weren’t Dad’s. So who was it? To confuse me further, the coyote in my April 21 video post I first identified as Bold and subsequently as Mister. It isn’t Mister, the lower lip isn’t right. Yet I’m not sure it is Bold either. Bold’s conformation is superior and the April 21 coyote’s isn’t. That its body shape was lackluster made me think it Mister, but I missed that the lower lip wasn’t Mister’s. I wonder if there are four, perhaps five of the seven last year pups still with Mom and Dad. If there are more than three yearlings in there, I may never really know it to a certainty, and if there are extra yearlings in there, I don’t really know if they are siblings to the others or not. What I do know is that this group is pretty good at delivering confusion.
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.