Rufous Howls, by Charles Wood

For several years I’ve visited a nearby field to watch two coyote parents whom I named Mom and Dad. In November 2012 I found that a new coyote couple had replaced Mom and Dad as the field’s resident coyotes. I named them Rufous and Mary.

One possible difference between Mom and Dad’s behavior compared to Rufous and Mary’s is that Mom and Dad did not seem to howl at emergency vehicle sirens. Consider my August 22, 2012 post:  A Brief Show.  The video included there showed Mom ignoring both the siren and her youngsters’ howls in reply. My general impression after many observations was that Mom and Dad just didn’t bother with howling back at sirens. I always thought that restraint showed how intelligent Mom and Dad are.

In contrast, the video included with this post shows Rufous howling at sirens. A little earlier, Rufous and Mary, both hidden, were howling at the sirens.

Coyote in a Secluded Forest

0602 We live right next to a Provincial forest with nothing behind us but forest and mountain, we have almost invisible neighbors each side, so generally we are very in a very secluded location.

Last Winter, we noticed a coyote sitting at the edge of the forest about 20 metres away, he looked very thin and it was very cold out there – now I know that people should not feed coyotes, but my wife just couldn’t stand to see this poor fellow, so she got two fresh chicken legs and a handfull of beef offcuts and took them out to where he had been (he moved off when she went outside)

Within a couple of minutes he came back and polished off the lot and disappeared (maybe he took some back for his mate), anyway this was repeated each day for quite some time, until he would literally follow her to the feeding area a mere 3 or 4 metres behind. She would always talk quietly to him and he would stand about 2 metres from her and seem quite relaxed. Needless to say he began to look very healthy with a lovely full coat, and sometimes he will go away for 3 – 4 days and then return.

0528One day I was sitting on a planter, when I realized he was sitting just behind me (see attached photo) luckily I had my camera so very slowly I took this photo while I kept talking to him very softly – he stayed right there. Anyway my question is this; my wife took some food to him yesterday and he came right toward her and stopped about 1 metre away, then almost playfully he did a few little bounces with his front feet, his head was low and his rear in the air, then he started to eat the food – was he playing ? and was this his show of freindship ?

Incidentally we never give him any ‘human’ food only raw chicken and pieces of raw beef, I guess we love all animals and they seem to respond so well to us, including Owls, Racoons, a skunk family, and of course about 12 red squirrels !


Duncan and Rosalind


Thanks for writing and sharing your experience — and wonderful photos. Personally, there is nothing wrong with helping animals that are having a hard time in winter as long as it doesn’t create a nuisance for neighbors.  Think of it as “rehabilitating” wildlife in the wild.  The “don’t feed” is for misguided people that are feeding coyotes that don’t need any help – that, is “hurting” the coyote.

Obviously this coyote was there hoping to find some relief from starvation. The little bounce is happy anticipation, and gratefulness for the food – this is the behavior pups engage in, when parents bring food back for them.

The coyote is also keeping a respectful distance. It’s best if Rosalind puts the food down and  leaves quickly, as not to condition it to approach or follow humans – this is strictly for the coyote’s protection.

Continue to help this little animal get over the hump.  One day the coyote will leave, and may not return…until it needs help through another harsh winter or drought. Duncan and Rosalind will both share in the blessings of the merciful!  

Mary Eats, by Charles Wood

When I first began watching my coyotes in 2009 I thought that I would frequently get to see them hunt and eat. I was wrong, I never witnessed them eating. Finally this week, after almost four years, a coyote caught and ate something while I was watching.

The video begins just after Mary pounced on a rodent burrow. I’m impressed by how quickly she moves. Once Mary has it she looks toward the camera, rodent hanging limply from her mouth. Then she looks back over her left shoulder at my two dogs and me. Mary turns her head back and then looks back again at us over her right shoulder. She takes a good long look. Then Mary puts the dead rodent down in order to peer into the burrow. The second clip shows her eating the rodent while a rabbit moves around in the background.

Mary’s concern, upon catching a meal, was with my dogs. I think she looked back at us to make sure we wouldn’t run to her to take her meal away. She looked at us twice to be sure her catch was safe from theft, in my opinion. Convinced her meal was safe, she put it down on the ground. However Mary didn’t look for Rufous. In my opinion, her failure to look for Rufous was a clue to his whereabouts. Either he isn’t a thief, unlikely, or she knows he wasn’t in the vicinity.

Poison Prevention Week: March 17-23

Young predators are especially vulnerable to poisons. They are brought poisoned rodents by their parents

Young predators are especially vulnerable to poisons. They are brought poisoned rodents by their parents

We have a National Poison Prevention Week the third week in March of each year to increase awareness and prevent human poisonings. I am reminded of this by the WildCare Newsletter.

National Poison Prevention Week serves as a reminder to all of us that animals, too, are being poisoned all the time. It is the young animals which are most vulnerable — just like with humans. Below is a link to the WildCare page on what is happening to wildlife because of the rat poisons which humans use.

Let’s stop using poisons to kill any animals. There are other solutions, including high pitch beepers, which will disperse unwanted animals non-lethally. Please visit the link below and consider making a donation to WildCare.

Don’t Follow Me

2013-03-14 (1)It was dusk when I saw this coyote run across a path at the crest of a hill and down the other side. I hurried over the hilltop to see where it was going and what it was doing.

Don't follow me

Don’t follow me

The coyote was very aware that I was there and apparently did not like that. As you can see, it decided to give me a piece of its mind. Need more be said?

The message was clear, so I turned around and left. It was too dark to record any behavior anyway.

Update on Leg Injury

wound on left back leg

left back leg wound

I was able to get a really good zoomed-in shot of the limping coyote’s injured leg. I first noted the limp about two weeks ago.

I have no idea if this laceration to the heel and maybe even the Achille’s tendon, as shown in the photo, is what caused the limp, but the laceration looks pretty recent.

Below is a video showing a few seconds of her gait — two weeks after I first noted the injury. She is no longer holding the leg up, but you can see that she is being very careful when putting weight on the leg.

A few days ago, as she crossed a field, I could see that her steps were uneven and jerky, as if she were almost “tripping” every few steps. So the leg has not healed, but it looks like it is improving: she is no longer holding it up when she walks.

Behaviorally, this coyote has been keeping out of view, and I wonder if it is to protect herself during a time when she might not be able to defend herself well or run away quickly should she need to do so.

Red Balloon, by Charles Wood

For several years I’ve visited a nearby field to watch two coyote parents whom I named Mom and Dad. In November 2012 I found that a new coyote couple had replaced Mom and Dad as the field’s resident coyotes. I named them Rufous and Mary.

The video contains two scenes. First, Mary stops her trek to look at my two leashed dogs and me. Then she looks behind her. The camera pans to the right. In the background is extensive construction that has included earth removal and hole drilling with a drill about two stories high. The project has been in progress for a couple of months where part of an embankment was removed. None of that activity has bothered Rufous and Mary even though that construction project is their den area’s northern boundary. Panning right, the camera finds Rufous who momentarily had looked away. His gaze returns to my dogs and me.

Rufous and Mary were coordinating their movements. Rufous had taken a protective position prior to Mary coming into view. Once in view, it was clear that Mary was heading north, was leaving the den area as part of her nightly trek. Rufous provided her with cover. I’ve also seen parent coyotes take protective positions as they’ve watched over their pups.

The second scene shows Rufous trotting out to investigate a red party balloon that had just landed in his field. It didn’t hold his interest for long.


2013-02-26Coyotes keep the rat population down. Here is a coyote with a freshly caught, huge rat. Good for her!

The bad thing is that people in urban neighborhoods use rat poisoning. In one of the parks here in San Francisco, an owl was found dead due to having eaten poisoned rats. The necropsy showed that the poison had infiltrated his entire body. I’ve seen dead rats lying around, bleeding from the mouth or hemorrhaging through the skin — these are signs of rat poisoning. And I’ve seen rats in such pain that they can barely walk. The poisoned rats are easy prey since they move so slowly. They become easy food for raptors and other animals, including coyotes — and up the food chain go the poisons.

Most all rodent eating animals are carrying rodenticide poison loads. An overload can cause lethargy and other debilitating conditions. If you see a coyote that fits this description, please call Animal Care and Control — there are treatments for rodenticide poisoning.

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