An Only Child?, by Charles Wood

Pup

Here in LA County, it looks like Mom and Dad only had one puppy this year. The two times I’ve been able to spot them with a puppy this year they have only been with one.

MomPup

In the MomPup photo, Mom is watching out just to the right of the puppy. Dad is to the left of the puppy, completely hidden by the bushes. This is one well protected puppy and it looks healthy and strong.

Posting written by Charles Wood. Visit Charles Wood’s website for more coyote photos: Charles Wood. His work is copyrighted and may only be used with his explicit permission.

Look What’s On The Wall!

Occasionally I like posting interesting behaviors of other animals. Someone emailed these photos to me. What’s that on the dam wall?  Look closely!  It’s one of those things you have to see to believe.

This is the Diga del Cingino dam in Italy. Can you see the
little dots on the wall? You’ll never guess what they are.

You’ve gotta be kidding!

They are European Ibex and they like to eat the moss and lichen growing on the wall.They also are licking the salt off the stone. Isn’t that incredible they can stand at that angle? Just when you think you’ve seen everything

Enchanted With A Pine Cone Game

I love this photo: here is a coyote totally enchanted with a game of “go get the pine cone” between an owner and his dog. Look at that supple torso! The great body language and facial expressiveness convey everything. The coyote spent several minutes observing — mesmerized — riveted on the activity on the path ahead.

What was the coyote picking up on as he watched?  Was it the fun involved? That there was a strong human/dog relationship? That the dog liked “getting” the pine cone?  That the owner liked “getting rid” of the pine cone?  Why was that pine cone so important and so much fun? Why wasn’t the dog interested in chasing the coyote? Why was the dog not paying one bit of attention to the coyote? Why wasn’t the man paying any attention?

I can answer for the man and the dog. They have seen the coyote before, so it was no novelty. And as for the dog, playing pine cone was the highlight of her day — why interrupt the fun for an old coyote?

Coyotes Jump on Bushes?

There was something in that bush that the coyote was after, though I never saw it. The bush has a springy quality to it — trampoline like! It looks like fun — maybe that is why the coyote tries it over and over again.  The companion coyote thinks the whole endeavor is kind of silly: there might be some teasing going on! I have observed coyotes in trees before, but this is the first true bushjumping I’ve seen!  I did post some similar jumping in stills, but it wasn’t this dramatic. The name of this bush is “coyote bush” — coincidentally!

Coyote Confronts Mountain Lion, by Charles Wood

A friend sent me a video link of a coyote and a mountain lion interacting this month at Whiting Ranch, Orange Country California. In the video, a mature male coyote vocalizes at a mountain lion. The mountain lion was probably passing through the coyote’s territory. The coyote barred the mountain lion from going down a road. My guess is that the coyote’s territory is along and down the road.

The coyote made a stand. It told the mountain lion that it had better not go farther down that road. The coyote told the mountain lion that he was tough, persistent, and that he would continue to make noise if the mountain lion stayed around. Stealthy mountain lions don’t like noisy coyotes broadcasting their movements to all the other animals in the area.

In the very last part of the video, after the mountain lion went into the brush, the coyote’s ears were full forward. It had a lock on the mountain lion and wanted to be sure it was still moving away. The coyote didn’t pursue the mountain lion because the mountain lion did what the coyote wanted. The mountain lion gave the coyote its space.

Stopping To Observe, Then Trekking On

This video is self-explanatory. The little coyote was out, mostly hunting for food, when it stopped to observe a few sparse dog walkers in the distance. I only caught the last minute on video, but the coyote sat there for about 10 minutes total time. When it was through watching, it continued it’s trek in search of a gopher or a vole.

Coyotes enjoy observing dogs from the distance — they hope, while doing so, that they won’t become detected. If a dog detects them, it will often end up chasing the coyote.  Most coyotes will flee if they are chased by a dog, but a dominant coyote may well chase back, and even nip. After all, this is their territory and they would do the same to any interloper coyotes. On occasion, especially during pupping season, a coyote might charge a dog it feels is threatening its space. For this reason, it is best to keep pets leashed in a coyote area — it’s the smart thing to do. Coyotes are much less likely to engage in this behavior towards dogs that are kept close to their owners.

Coyotes have no interest in human encounters — they just want to be left alone and will maintain their critical distances from all humans unless they are prompted/trained to do otherwise through human intervention. The worst intervention involves feeding, which, in fact, is illegal. Please, never feed a coyote: you are hurting the coyote’s health and it’s independence and wildness.

A Rendezvous Ritual

Coyotes spend a good deal of their day sleeping. Members of a pack or family may sleep within close proximity of each other, or they may sleep much further apart, but probably within the same couple of acres of each other. They have amazing built-in time clocks, but they also are influenced by circumstances of the moment. My own dog could tell the time and knew what was to be done at that time. For example, I always set off, with my dog, at exactly 2:40 to pick up one of my kids at school. But one day I fell asleep — I would not have made it on time except that my dog began poking me with her muzzle at exactly 2:40. Needless to say, I was amazed. The same is true for coyotes — they seem to know when it is time to meet up, but if people or dogs are around, they will delay.

Most coyotes I know like to go trekking alone. After all, their staple diet consists of voles and gophers — animals that really can’t be divvied up very well. Might as well hunt alone. But some coyotes do enjoy trekking together, usually in pairs. When they hunt in pairs, there is usually a rendezvous beforehand.

Rendezvous locations can remain the same for a while, or they can change drastically from day to day, but coyotes seem to have various favorite meeting spots which they alternate between for a while, before changing these altogether .  This is where they congregate to then move together for their foraging.

In this case here, the older female had spent her day sleeping in the sun quite some distance from where the young male had been also sleeping in the sun. The female was the first to move around — she disappeared into some bushes. In the meantime, I watched the male who moved from where he had been sleeping to a new location where he curled up and then dozed a while longer. Finally, he got up, stretched, scratched, and began to forage. I watched him catch a vole and toy with it. He continued searching for voles and then looked up ahead. He must have seen the female approaching, because he sat down and watched intently. She trotted over, and arrived on the scene.

The ritual began with hugs and kisses. They are hidden in the grass in these photos, but you can see what is going on. It was intense, but lasted only about a minute. That was the first phase of the meeting. Then there was a pause where all activity ceased. I think the male was waiting for something, but since nothing happened he turned around and backed into her — it looked like a request. He did it again and then looked over his shoulder: “well?”. The older female was obliging. She began grooming the young fellow, pulling off burrs and bugs. He accepted this, repeatedly laying his ears back against his head — he seemed to melt with the attention. There was care, affection, and intensity here which few animals that I have seen show each other. The next phase of the meeting involved trotting off together. From what I have seen in the past — though I did not follow them this time — they will spend their time together trekking, marking their territory, hunting, playing, exploring and maybe even meeting up briefly with a couple of lone coyotes who live adjacent to this territory, before again returning to separate localities to rest.

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