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.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Barbara Knupp
    Mar 05, 2013 @ 14:32:56

    Thanks for the update on Rufous and Mary. Mary’s probably pregnant by now?? On a couple of occasions, I’ve been privileged to observe the larger (male?) coyote serve as “point man” for a smaller (female?) coyote. They truly work as a team. Still wondering where Mom and Dad went and will they return to reclaim their territory?Maybe we will never know.


  2. Charles Wood
    Mar 05, 2013 @ 20:08:39

    Last year’s pictures of Mom show her lactating on April 15, walking around without her puppies. On May 7 she was still lactating. On June 3 I viewed a puppy.

    Coyotes nurse for six weeks and have a 63 day gestation period. Mom probably conceived as early as the middle of January 2012. Mary doesn’t look pregnant so if she is, she would have had to conceive in the latter part of February.

    I don’t have a good track record of being able to tell male from female coyote so I won’t try with yours!

    The teamwork is impressive to me each time I see it. Mom and Dad were very tuned in to each other. Rufous and Mary are too. Mary didn’t come out at first. Her decision to come out came from her analysis of Rufous’ body language and from lack of movement from my dogs. All was quiet on the front so she emerged, Rufous had the situation under control. After walking farther along the road, she retreated because some boys appeared on bicycles coming toward her on the road and I doubt they even saw her. Rufous had no interest in the boys on bikes, stayed focused on my dogs. Red balloons apparently deserve more attention than boys on bikes.

    Thinking back on some of my observations of Mom and Dad, it seems now that they weren’t as comfortable as usual coming to the den area last fall. They seemed to be anticipating a problem each time they came, and didn’t consider my dogs and me as a problem. I have been able to tell when their focus in past times was more on something else than on my dogs and me, they giving off an aurora of preoccupation. So it makes sense to me that Rufous’ encroachment would have been gradual, perhaps later escalating to a territorial fight, yet perhaps instead Mom and Dad just stopped coming to the den area as they have stopped at that time of year in the past. Generally speaking, during late fall and winter, if I was going to see a coyote near the den area it was one of the children, not Mom and Dad. That’s why it makes sense to me that Mary could be one of Mom and Dad’s children that Rufous serendipitously discovered in the paradisiacal coyote oasis in suburbia that I call the den area. If Mom and Dad are gone, they left the best parts of themselves behind and live on through the coyote spirit in Mary, where Mom and Dad prevail and endure in the precious presence that is Mary.


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