Another Great Sketch by Courtney

Owlet by Courtney Quirin


I’m really taken with Courtney’s wildlife drawings. She captures the Great Horned owlet’s character so wonderfully here!

Thank you Courtney for another great sketch!

Nose Punch

A hard and fast “punch” is delivered at the entryway to the burrow of a little critter that will become the coyote’s prey. It’s part of the cycle of life. Coyotes sometimes use their two front paws which they stiffen for this purpose. In this case, the nose is used to deliver the hefty punch. From what I have seen, this punch disables or weakens the critter. Most of the time, as here,  it is followed by probing and digging before the prey is actually captured. The coyote regularly looks around to check out the safety of his surroundings.

Wrong Tree?


I, too, heard the loud rustling sounds of a squirrel which caused me to look over and see it. The coyote’s attention became more and more intent the more he watched the loud activity. Finally, the coyote stood up, then dashed over to the tree. But no squirrel was in sight. “Could I have mistaken the tree?” Just in case he got it wrong, the coyote inspected the next tree over, but the squirrel was not there either, apparently. So Coyote settled for a green grassy salad close by before trotting off.

Chicken Drama, But No Drumsticks!

This was an exciting day!  Many people keep chickens in their yards these days: chickens are allowed, but not roosters because they crow. But guess what — it is not just the roosters who crow! So crowing is what I heard, and so did this coyote as he passed through a neighborhood. The coyote approached the very well fenced-in yard — there was no chance of him getting in. However, the chickens saw the coyote through the wire fencing and began shreaking and flapping. One flew to the top of the fence where she strutted for a few minutes, and then she flew out of the protected yard into a tree in the overgrown yard next door. I thought: Oh, no!

The dog did his duty by barking at the intruder, but he was fenced in and that is all he could do, so he left. The coyote walked over to under the tree where the chicken had flown. And he waited. And he waited, hoping the chicken would descend to a more reachable level. The chicken crowed continually the entire time, but never budged from her high perch in the tree. And the coyote waited and waited. I wondered if the chicken would make it back. She did. She suddenly flapped her way back after about 35 minutes. As she did so, the coyote jerked to a standing position, but remained where he was, watching.

Maybe chickens are smarter than we think. My thought is that this chicken had flown out of the coop to distract the coyote from the other chickens. She stayed out there scolding that coyote. When she realized the coyote could not reach any of them — which the coyote would have done by then — she flew back to the safety of her yard. Eventually, the coyote walked off. He knew the chickens were not reachable in their yard. There was lots of drama, but no drumsticks this time!

Mmmm: Chile Con Queso!

Urban life has a lot to offer, including a greater variety of menu offerings that can be found right down the street or around the corner. This meal must have been delicious — the coyote licked the bowl and spoon clean after first eating a tortilla chip. Then he looked up and down the street for more signs of food. There not being any, he trotted off into the woods. Although these were tossed-out-the-window leftovers, there was enough there for the coyote to appreciate the taste, and maybe to decide he would like more.

This kind of treat is only ever found in areas of human activity. I’ve seen coyotes wander into picnic areas after hours where they pick up bits of food which cannot be found in wild habitats. Aren’t we trying to keep coyotes from frequenting human activity areas? By dumping our dirty paper plates and leftovers wherever we please, we are actually inviting these critters to come out into the open more.

Watching The Ducks Overhead

A flock of ducks passed overhead and I watched it across the entire skyline. A coyote I had seen not too far off also had stopped its activity to observe the same sight, raising its head and fixing its gaze on the arcing flight of birds.

We both stayed there watching until the birds were no longer in sight, and then continued what we had been doing before we saw them: me, watching the coyote, and the coyote hunting.

Coyotes are as curious and as interested in their surroundings as we are. I frequently see them watching simply to see what is going on. I felt “connected” to have shared the same awareness as a little wild coyote had.

Sniffing For, then Scratching At an Irritant

This fellow had been relaxing when he suddenly bolted up and looked into a neighbor’s yard, then trotted over and stood behind some thick growth and sniffed intently, with his nose high in the air. He spent a full minute doing this, closing his eyes sometimes as if to really savor what might be in the air. He was in an overgrown empty field, and directed his sniffing towards the yard next door where several dogs lived. These dogs were never out of their house without their owners. However, I had seen one come over to the overgrown field to do its business and I had seen this particular coyote sniff out these messes and urinate on top of them. Also, I’ve seen one of the dogs chase this coyote, though not in a very intense manner. These dogs are particularly acute at either hearing or smelling coyotes that come to the property: at the slightest hint that a coyote might be around, one and then all of them will begin barking together. I think there are four dogs who live there, on and off.

On this day, no dogs were around. The coyote sniffed carefully from a long distance away, and then slowly trotted closer to the hedge which divides the properties — yawning on the way over. I think coyotes sometimes yawn to maintain a casual-calm mood for themselves. At the hedge-line, the coyote stopped and stretched its neck up to get a better view. Again, no dogs in sight, and no barking.  So the coyote carefully and slowly entered the yard, walked around casually, found the smell he was looking for, urinated on the spot, and then kicked and scratched that area of ground where he had urinated.  The coyote had probably found a spot where one of the dogs had urinated.  “Take that!” It was one of those “oneupmanship” behaviors directed towards the dogs which have been an irritant to the coyote. When done, the coyote exited the yard and continued trekking through uninhabited areas before disappearing.

A Feast For One At A Time

This posting shows two coyotes feasting on a larger prey than normal. It is a skunk which, when I came upon the scene, was already dead. The above sequence of photos shows only the first coyote eating. The other one hung around, avoided looking at the one feasting, succumbed to looking, tried moving closer. The feasting coyote then warned off this onlooker. She was going to have her fill before allowing the other one to come in and she became nasty about it to make him understand, showing her teeth and pulling back her lips. This part of the sequence I’ve posted in the above gallery.

The gallery below shows the second coyote who decided to move about 50 feet away from the feasting coyote. At this distance of removal, he briefly, and jealously, glanced back at the one feasting before settling down. He then kept his gaze away from the feasting coyote, appearing disinterested, but in truth, patiently waiting his turn to eat. When the first coyote had finished and walked off, this second guy immediately hurried to feast on the second pickings. He ate a bit and then dragged the carcass off before eating some more.

Feeding and Sharing!

feeding from the other's mouth

Both of these coyotes were together, chewing on some found food on a patch of dried grasses.  As I watched, I was amazed to see one of them approach the other, insert it’s muzzle into the corner of the other’s mouth, raising that upper lip, and retrieve some of the partly chewed food!  The coyote with the food allowed it!

They both continued to chew their respective shares, and then the same coyote went back for more, but the feast was finished — there was no more to be taken! Puppies get regurgitated food in this manner from their parents. The behavior seems to continue past the puppy stage.  Is it a ritual or communication? Is the behavior a confirmation of unity? Affection? Dominance/submissiveness??

I have read that there are tolerated mouth-to-mouth food transfers in marmosets, and that this behavior occurs irrespective of the animal’s sex or dominant/subordinate status.

Singing With Sirens

The sirens were loud and they were close by. One of the coyotes became frenzied and upset at the deafening intensity of the sound — he didn’t know which way to go and began running in various directions, as if he had become trapped, looking around for something to focus on and escape from but not finding it.  Finally both coyotes began yipping in response to the siren. Yipping with sirens is normal coyote behavior — the difference this time was that the siren had come so close. I’m wondering if this yipping and howling served to focus and calm the one who had become frantic?  This recording is of only two coyotes and a siren. The recording, unfortunately, picked up a lot of wind sound.

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