Two Take To A Street

When I passed these two at daybreak, they were already headed somewhere — there was purpose in their gait.  I followed, thinking that this might evolve into an adventure, and it did, sort of. You might ask, why do coyotes trek? The simplest answer is that they need to get from point A to point B. But also, they mark the periphery of their territories, and while doing so they are scouting for what is going on and where food might be. They also go out hunting. Longer treks might be about finding a mate and ultimately dispersal, which is when the pups leave home for good to seek their fortune elsewhere, usually between the ages of one and three. Territories vary vastly in size, but two to six miles is not unusual. That coyotes sometimes take city streets is normal coyote behavior — they usually do this at times of the day/night when few people are out and about since they desperately want to avoid all encounters.

So, today the fellow was in the lead and they were going somewhere — they had a determined pace. I followed at a brisk pace, with spurts of running to keep up. I’ve seen coyotes walk purposefully this way many times on their way to “dog watch”, where they sit on a little knoll in the distance to watch the string of dog walkers, or to get to a hunting spot. Their pace is more casual when they return from such outings.

This time, instead of stopping at one of their little knolls or grassy areas within the park, or taking a park path, they took the street.  They did not enter the street tentatively, but went right to the middle of it and then moved off to the side, alternating between the shrub/tree area set back from the sidewalk, the sidewalk and the street itself as they moved steadily forward. The female looked as though she was an old hand at negotiating this street stuff. She maintained an even pace, with periodic but regular stops to sniff, pee or hunt along the way. When she needed to hide because of startling/loud noises or car activity, she moved slowly and stealthily towards bushes or trees and remained still: if a person had been around to glimpse her, they might have wondered if it was just their imagination because she quietly and suddenly was no longer there. The fellow was different. To me, he looked as though he were new to trekking on the streets. Although he knew how to hide behind things, he was clumsy, he spooked at all sounds and sudden movements — such as cars passing, though there were not many — he ran, darted and his pace was nervous and erratic. He spent more time looking around, whereas she seemed to take it all in as she moved along.

When the  natural grassy/tree strip narrowed itself out of existence  — the setback buildings no longer were set back from the street — rather than continue on the sidewalk, the nervous coyote ran up the middle of the street for several blocks — he was tense, erratic, alert and fast. He disappeared from my view. I could not keep up, and besides, I could only follow one of the coyotes since they were now separated. So I returned and kept an eye on the calmer female as she continued on the sidewalk behind parked cars for a while. She, too, had lost track of the other coyote and no longer looked for him. As she walked, she stopped to lap up water from the curb, hid behind parked cars, sniffed and marked in the street next to a parked car, walked casually by a vacant bus stop, and then finally disappeared behind a large patch of shrubbery through which I could no longer follow.

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