Family Play Scene

The most obvious sign of a family is when what you thought was a twosome suddenly shows itself to be a threesome or a foursome! We had only been seeing two coyotes at this site, an older male and a young female. After identifying them, I stopped looking closely at these individuals, because it was so easy to distinguish them.

Then we came upon this family play scene. Ma played with a youngster, while Pa curled up to hold down the fort in his own way — with shut eyes. He’d glance over at the play now and then but didn’t want to be a part of it. Dozing off, away from the others, but within view of them, was his idea of fun. Pa is substantially older than Ma in both his appearance and in his energy level.

Playing between Ma and the youngster consisted of chasing, tumbling, leaping and wrestling, with continual forays in our direction to check us out. The youngster also kept looking off into the distance which made me think that maybe there was a fourth coyote who we did not see — and one of the photos certainly made that a possibility — though it could have been the lighting that prevented definitive identification. I only actually saw three coyotes at any one time.

Interestingly, we could have predicted that there were young ones in this area because of Ma’s unceasing guarded and anxious behavior whenever we saw her, and because of her seldom leaving her protected area unless no people were present. It turns out that we’ve actually been seeing this youngster at various times without knowing it: somehow I mistook him for his Pa since we only ever saw two coyotes at any one time, and I assumed the lighting was causing the slight difference in appearance which I saw — it is easy to mistake the identity of coyotes under poor lighting conditions. However, once you definitively identify a coyote, it is easy to go back to the older photos to distinguish what you couldn’t before, and I can now see that the youngster has been around for many months.

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