More On New Coyote, by Charles Wood

This post is an afterward to my post on November 23, 2012 about a new female coyote I saw on Thanksgiving. Included in that post is a segment of video where a female coyote looked like she was stalking. Here I offer additional video from that day. I hope it will better contextualize her behavior. When viewing the video, please remember my dogs are tied off and separated from the coyotes by a chain link fence.

The additional video picks up where the earlier one left off. I am back at camera after tossing a golf ball and the new female is shown going away.

After that we see where she came from. Still there, her coyote companion continued to survey the scene. (The new female is sitting down in the lower right.) Having tired of waiting for me to leave with my dogs, she apparently decided to message us again.

She walked in our direction. At that point I could easily have stomped and yelled. Had I done so, I’m sure she would have stopped and turned around. She was approaching this time with comparatively less energy, even stopping to groom. Each time she slowed down or stopped was another opportunity for me to message her. Note that as she got closer she yawned. I see coyote yawns in these circumstances as involuntarily betraying anxiety. Continuing, the new female was distracted and stopped to sniff. Again, she was not overly interested in having to message us again and her pause was another opportunity for me to move her back with a stomp or a yell. She came forward and yawned, another opportunity to move her back. Since I made no objection, she moved forward a bit. Then she stopped to appraise, and came forward more. One of my dogs began to bark. I reassuringly went to my dogs and made myself big. She responded at once and moved back to where she started.

The last segment shows the new female and her companion, now to our left. Her companion chose to be visible. She instead used a small rise to partially conceal herself from my dogs and me. Soon I could no longer see her. Her companion also didn’t seem to know where she went, my losing track of it as it looked around for her. My dogs seemed to suspect her location, but appeared to be barking aimlessly. It was dusk, getting cold, and I decided to leave.

The two coyotes were almost exclusively focused on my dogs. I think the new female wanted them to run away. Until I acted, I was just a placeholder, a possible complication. Even so, when I softly tossed a golf ball during the first approach, she immediately went away. I think she understands that she isn’t able to deal with a human. I think her second approach was consequently less vigorous than her first. From her first try, I think she learned that in this situation she indeed had to deal with a human, not just with dogs. In her second approach, I think she acted deflated. However she was able to find a dignified way to leave after the second try.

I am struck by how dependent the companion was on the new female. At first I suspected they were mates. However, their actual behavior was more parent-child than mates. For example, my Dad coyote, when Mom takes action, doesn’t stand around all flighty and looking like a gulping coward confused about what’s going to happen next. Mom, when Dad acts, is alert and in tune. The companion appeared as in training, not as a mate. It acted like her baby. She arguably acted parentally to be rid of unwelcome dogs. Just maybe the companion isn’t a yearling yet, is instead only about seven months old. If so, that would help explain a behavior that otherwise approached aberrance. The only time my Mom and Dad coyote act similarly is when they have small ones around. It is starting to look like both these coyotes are new to me, are mother and child, and were probably just passing through Mom and Dad’s territory.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gail
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 03:58:50

    Excellent! Thanks for putting us as close to getting inside a coyote’s head as we’re ever going to get! I have to laugh at all the predator hunters out there who think they “know” these animals because they’re out in the field. They know nothing. THIS is the way to truly study them to the point of understanding.
    She certainly didn’t appear as determined the second time around!


  2. Charles Wood
    Nov 28, 2012 @ 18:12:13

    Thank you for the kind words Gail.


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