Interpersonal Behavior: Messaging and Safespace

These two members of a coyote family headed into a forested area to avoid encountering a dog.  The forest serves as a protective passageway because it is dense enough for coyotes not to be detected. It looked as though they were out on a morning trek together. I’ve seen them stick together during several hours of trekking. But the trekking plan this time was cut short when they happened upon two juvenile squirrels quarreling in the middle of the path rather than paying attention to their surroundings. One of the coyotes dashed after them and caught one.

The 2nd coyote watched the capture, but stayed behind: trekking activity is shared, but food is not. The coyote with the squirrel eyed the 2nd coyote and squinted — there was a message in that gaze. He scurried off to a hidden location. The 2nd coyote watched him disappear from sight and then turned around, lay down, and waited.

She waited and waited. She put her head down sometimes, she watched some walkers through the dense trees, she sprinted to a close-by tree to avoid detection by a dog and lay down there, and she kept looking towards the spot where the other coyote had disappeared. After a while I left to see if the 1st coyote might still be close by. He was a mere 50 feet away — just far enough away to be out of sight from the 2nd coyote, where he consumed the entire squirrel over a period of about 8 minutes. He then walked away, leaving the area and the other coyote behind.

I returned to watch the 2nd coyote — she was still waiting. She waited another 30 minutes, moving about 75 feet once to a spot where she continued to wait. Finally, she got up and slowly walked to the spot where the first coyote had eaten. She sniffed and stared at the ground there for four minutes. She must have known this was the eating spot — I wondered what kind of scents she was gathering. Finally she walked on, seeming to follow the scent of the first. I lost her in some dense brush.

The initial “togetherness” of the pair was broken when food became involved.  More than likely the second coyote eventually caught up with the first one, but it’s possible that there might have been no further trekking together on this morning.

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