Rendezvous, Almost – by Charles Wood

Friday I saw four of my Los Angeles area coyotes, all more or less together.  Before twilight, Mom and Bold headed north from the nesting grounds to the rendezvous area.  Then Mister showed up to bark as I followed them.  I hadn’t seen Mom since June 13 and at that time she appeared to be traveling alone, as did Bold on June 30.  I often see my coyotes either singly or paired.

Although two coyotes together aren’t unusual, three suggests my pack may be gathering for a rendezvous.  At dusk a fourth coyote showed up, Shy.  Eventually the three yearlings moved out of sight, like Mom who hadn’t showed herself since before twilight.  The only adult I didn’t see was Dad.  I reasoned he must have been with the new puppies and hoped they would head towards us.  They didn’t.  Perhaps Mom went to join Dad and the rendezvous was rescheduled.  Or perhaps there is another rendezvous area and I delayed them moving there to join Dad and the puppies.  In any case, I didn’t see Dad and the puppies.

My presence is definitely seen by my coyotes as involved and the behaviors I see are mostly of their interactions with an involved human who brings his dog.  It was my dog who introduced us, and my interest in coyotes sprang from my interest in their field as a playground for my dog:  not a good start, a start that won’t be overcome.

Once I attempted to break Dad’s misimpression by playing tag with my dog while Dad watched.  I was thinking he would possibly be persuaded that we were cool.  There was no sign of reappraisal, his unamused glare embarrassed me.  Mom expresses Dad’s view, as do Mister, Shy and Bold.  If they have a theory of my mind, it wrongly informs them that I share my dog’s desire for their food.  Yet admittedly, given certain hypotheticals, I would eat their food though they could hardly know I wouldn’t relish it.  Then again, with a flame, ketchup, mustard, vinegar and a dill pickle I can conceive of their food as enjoyable.  I concede they know me in my essentials as well as they need to.

Mister

From time to time I’ve seen coyote life seemly unaffected by my presence.  For example, some crows once buzzed Mom.  She moved her gaze off me and onto the crows, sauntered from the road into wild mustard and returned to gazing at me as the crows moved on.  I had expected a more energetic defense by Mom.  Later I realized that crows can’t fly through wild mustard and that her defense was elegantly parsimonious.  My imaginary defense against buzzing crows, flailing wildly as I thought she should have done, would have been untutored.  It didn’t occur to me that Mom knows crows better than I do.

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.

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