Pups Born Just A Few Months Ago Join Mom, Dad and the Fire Engine Sirens

Only mom is barely visible in the distance. Most of the sounds are coming from the bushes!

Mom leads the chorus

Of this group chorus, only Mom can be seen — barely — in the distance. She’s far away, and it’s dusk. I’ve had to enhance the photo to make her really visible. Most of the sounds are coming from coyote pups hidden in various spots within the bushes! It sounds like the bushes are singing!

[audio https://yipps.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/pups-join-the-chorus-7-21.mp3]

These pups were just a little over three months old when I made the recording — close in size to those in this photo below, taken elsewhere and at an earlier date: note that this litter in the photo consists of five pups, which is not unusual for coyotes, though many youngsters don’t make it to adulthood.  I don’t know how many pups are in the pack I heard singing: remember that a few coyotes, with their different pitches, can sound like many more than there are.

Of course, coyote pups begin singing at an even younger age than three months, but they sound more like squeaky toys than real coyotes! If you want to hear what the youngest coyotes sound like, click this link: http://youtu.be/xKksJ3fvB1Q

Three Month Old Pups

Three Month Old Pups

Hey, Mom, Wanna Play?

How could anyone not want to be with such adorable pups, you might ask. But mothers need a break from their kids sometimes. Just look at the video, Meet The New Kids On The Block, to see what a coyote mom has to put up with! It looks like an incessant onslaught!

Kids of all species LOVE to play with their parents and want their attention! In the sequence of photos above, the kid comes up to Mom  for fun and games — he doesn’t seem to realize that she’s resting. But she does not want to be pestered here. “Beat it” is what she is saying.

1) Mom resting
2) Hey Mom, wanna play?
3) Please? NO!
4) In this slide he has withdrawn his hand as though it’s been slapped
5) Okay, BE that way! [The “kid” does a funny little twisty dance here!]
6) I’m outta here! Maybe Dad will play.
 

Moms often need free time away from the family.  Below she’s gone off some distance for a break, but she’s keeping an eye on them from her high vantage point, and will rush down to protect them if that is needed.

Mom rests on a knoll in the distance

Mom rests on a knoll in the distance

COYOTE MAN, A Creative Piece by Charlotte Hildebrand

Sitting at my table, with the windows wide, I hear my neighbor talking to the coyote, who has suddenly appeared in her backyard. “Come here, come here, my beautiful boy!” she murmurs. But I don’t believe her; it’s not a boy and she knows it. The coyote started coming around a few years ago, after her husband died, looking for handouts. I never thought about it before, but of course! It makes perfect sense. The coyote isn’t a boy, it’s her husband.

2013-07-17 (2)My neighbor used to feed the wild animals at the edge of the forest during the war. As a young girl, she left bread crumbs behind, when the family was forced to flee as refugees. Here, on the edge of the city, she feeds the coyote, skunks, possums, stray cats, raccoons. She feeds three fat crows perched on top of her garage, carrying on like the Marx Brothers. They hop around, cawing ceaselessly, then down to the ground next to the bowl of cat food and chase the cats away. These crows are as big as dogs; the cats don’t stand a chance.

At first i thought my neighbor must be feeding all the animals cat food, but the more I observe her, the more I think it’s real meat. Tonight, for instance, i could sware she fed the coyote a steak, specifically a rib-eye. Her husband used to love those steaks.

2013-07-17 (3)After dinner, my neighbor comes out with a mat and places it on the grass. Come here, come here, she begs her husband and pats the mat. I think she’s going to lie down, but she steps away. I turn my back and when i look again the coyote’s lying on the mat licking its paws, giving my neighbor moon eyes, following her with his gaze around the yard. They’re bonded to each other in a very deep way, these two. This man and wife.
.
2013-07-17At 7pm, the lights go out, another brownout up here on the city’s edge. An hour goes by, it grows dark, I can’t see a thing. Then as my eyes adjust, I see some shadowy figures take shape next door. The skunk that comes around this time of night, and the coyote a little off to the side, dancing around each other. Coyote sits still and watches the skunk freak out, with its tail straight up in the air. Skunk keeps one eye on the coyote and one on the food bowl. I’ve seen this dance before, the coyote letting the skunk come and go, not at all interested.

2013-07-17 (1)Perhaps the coyote has already forgotten his wild ways, although, if it’s true he’s my neighbor’s husband, he’ll rip your throat out faster than a surprised skunk can spray, faster than crows can caw, faster than a coyote can turn into a man and back again. I wouldn’t call that exactly tame. You can never be sure with wild animals.

[Charlotte Hildebrand is an artist and writer. This original piece can be found on her blog, The Rat’s Nest, along with more of her creative writing]

Healthy Spooking

spooked and running for cover

small pups are spooked and running for cover

Three times in the span of half a morning, I saw coyote pups spook and run for cover! They have good instincts, or they have been well trained.

The first time was when they became aware that I was focused on them. That stopped their play dead and they ran into hiding. I left, but found another more hidden spot from which to watch them later on.

trying to ward the dogs off

mother coyote trying to ward off two dogs

The second time they spooked was when Mom appeared in the distance — it was the far distance — keeping two dogs at bay and eventually running from the dogs as they chased her. The pups had been romping and playing on a hillside, but again, they looked up and froze in their places when they saw the scene, being instantaneously alerted to danger, and they ran for cover, not to emerge for several hours.

pups saw this chase

pups saw this chase — dogs after their mother

Later on, they were again frolicking behind some bushes when another dog started barking. All action stopped, even though the dog was nowhere in sight, and they ran for cover, not to emerge again while I was there.

In fact, right after this, this litter of pups was moved from this location and I have not seen them out in the open since this time.

Facilitating

I spotted this mom close to where I’ve seen her family several times. Coyotes maintain several safe spaces which they move between if they need to — for example, when they feel endangered, or if the fleas get out of hand. This was one of them.

Here, there is a small worn figure “8” path which is bare of foliage — an area I’ve seen traversed by pups playing. It is also a place where adults lie down to watch. She picked the crossing of the figure “8” for her scheme. She carefully dug a hole and buried the prey she had carried home, using her snout to push the soil over the prey. When she was finished, she trotted off into the distance. Before she was out of sight, small pups appeared. Had she called them? How did they know to come?

She continued on to a hilltop to watch and monitor. The pups alternated their attention between watching her leave and sniffing the burial spot. Then, suddenly, they ran off. Had they been spooked?  Had the prey moved?  They then turned around and kept their eye on that patch of earth, but nothing happened. Soon they became distracted by the need to play, and the buried treasure was forgotten about.

Fast forward 24 hours when I returned to the spot the next day. As I waited, two pups appeared. The two pups again sniffed the area without finding anything. Had the treasure already been found? However, one of them did uncover prey about 3 feet away — looks like it had also been left there by mom since there was no struggle to capture it — it was just “there”, ready to be picked up by a pup.

Looks like Mom is making things easy for the kids — first attempts at hunting are a piece of cake!  I find it amazing that such thought-out schemes are used by coyote parents to facilitate the training process!

Addendum: I wonder if the same thing, facilitating, was occurring in this posting about the papa coyote several weeks ago? Pups were only a little over one month old at the time, so maybe papa coyote was “jumping the gun” so to speak??  Blue Jay “Buries” P-nut in a Four Foot Bush; Coyote Reburies His Find

Territoriality in the Wild

skydiver

skydiver

Antagonism over territory is commonplace in the wild. People might get upset at a coyote displaying territorial behavior, but the wild is a place for constant territorial disputes within, and between, species.

I’ve seen ravens go after hawks, an entire flock of small birds go after owls — even in flight, coopers hawks go after red-tails, red-tails go after each other. I’ve heard loud complaining  in the form of squawking from ravens, squirrels, blue jays, or howls from coyotes when any species they consider threatening is in their immediate area. It’s how they ward off the threat and warn others of possible imminent danger.

Yesterday, it was a sweet little hummingbird. Sweet? Hmmm. There probably was a tiny hummingbird nest close by with eggs or with penny-size baby hummingbirds. Even this one ounce bird was doing its best to ward off a threat from an area it considered “his” or “hers”.

Anyway, I became aware that territorial behavior was being displayed when an incredibly strong “whirring” sound startled me right at ear level. “Wow! What was that!?” The hummingbird creates the sound with its wings as it darts past whomever it wants to warn off. It happened again. The message: “Leave! You’re making me anxious”. I heeded the message and moved off.

That’s when I saw the same tiny hummingbird skydive a little sparrow. The hummingbird did this three times as I watched. The small sparrow saw the bird coming each time and ducked at the onslaught. He, too, ended up moving away — about 50 feet. This wasn’t enough for the hummingbird who skydived again and succeeded in bouncing the little bird out of a bush. The sparrow flew off further (but only temporarily. I saw sparrows all over the place two hours later).

Then, it was the blue jay’s turn. Blue Jays are constantly screaming/squawking at cats, people, dogs, hawks or coyotes. This time the tables were turned: one became the target of the tiny little skydiving hummingbird. I couldn’t tell if the Blue Jay left because he was going to anyway, or because he was being harassed like the rest of us.

When another hummingbird appeared next to the first one, I wondered if they would now work together. But no. That was the end of the attacks. Had the new hummingbird messaged the attacker to “knock it off”?  Anyway, all was quiet now — no sign of any of the victims. They had all fled, and so had the hummingbird.

Meet the New Kids on the Block!

July Seventh – sent to me by my neighbor

Previous Older Entries