Mother Daughter Greeting

A joyous wiggly-squiggly muzzle-licking "hello"

A joyous wiggly-squiggly muzzle-licking “hello”

Exuberance, kisses, wiggly-sguiggles, and unbounded joy: that’s the description of a parent/pup greeting, in this case it is a mother-daughter greeting. The greeting lasted only about ten seconds, but it was intense.

The child coyote crouches low, belly right on the dirt, and extends her snout up to reach Mom’s. Ears are laid way back in total submission. At one point, the little girl is ready to turn belly up. This little coyote is ecstatic and overflowing with affection and happiness. Although it is the child that displays most of the affection — note that Mom’s eyes are squeezed shut most of the time, probably for protection from the onslaught — it was Mom who actually joyously ran down the hill to greet this little one, so Mom initiated this greeting! When Mom decided to go, the youngster followed.

This display of affection occurs even if the separation has been less than 1/2 hour. Coyote family members show this kind of affection for each other whenever they’ve been separated for even a short period of time.

A Father Coyote Feeds His Pups

Here’s a series of photos I caught of a father coyote bringing food to youngsters.

*They see him coming and run towards him, knowing he has food for them.

*One sticks its snout into Dad’s mouth in an attempt to hurry up the process.

*Dad holds them off until he finds a spot accessible to both pups, where he regurgitates the food and then walks away.

*The pups anxiously eat up what has been brought to them.

*One pup then wants more and appeals to Dad by thrusting its snout into Dad’s, but Dad has no more to offer, so the pup returns to the “pile” of regurgitated food.

*When both pups are finished, Dad gives them each a snout squeeze with his own muzzle: this seems to be a mutually initiated behavior with pups thrusting their snouts into Dad’s mouth as he extends his snout to gently grab hold of theirs.  Is this a “thank you” from the pups, or “mind your manners” from Dad?

In addition to the coyotes naturally blending into the landscape with their camouflage coloring, the observation occurred at twilight when it was hard to see, so I feel lucky to even have been aware of the event. Interestingly, Mom did not participate, being too far away to do so, but she was within observing distance, and she was keenly interested in the goings on, as revealed by her focused attention during this feeding event. These pups here are approaching 5 months of age.

Curiosity Begins At A Young Age

I have no idea what this little coyote was observing, but it must have been very interesting because he spent a great deal of time watching it, interspersed with occasionally looking around at the surroundings. His attention always went back to whatever was drawing his attention on the ground in front of him.

Curiosity is a signature characteristic of coyotes who spend lots of time looking at things to figure them out. When this four-month-old had had enough — or got bored — he got up, yawned and ambled into the bushes.

FAUNA: An Exhibit in LA

Charlotte Fauna 2013-08-09Charlotte Hildebrand, who has contributed to this blog, and Margaret Gallagher have a new, and very interesting, exhibit up in the LA area!

Their work shows the complex relationship between humans and wild animals in our cities. Of interest to all of us who have read Charlotte’s stories on this blog is her freshly created zine based on the story about her neighbor who feeds a coyote, 6 skunks, possums and raccoons, 3 crows, a dozen cats and possibly her wayward husband! Margaret’s work, in watercolor and ink, shows outsized and impossibly placed animals in an urban setting.

The show is to benefit the California Wildlife Center, a rehabilitation center for wild animals in LA and sea life along the California shore. There will be lots to look at and purchase!  The exhibit is being held on August 24th, from 7-10, at Perhspace which is an alternative music venue found on the edge of downtown LA, at Glendale Blvd and Temple.

Four-Month-Old Pups May Look Like Full-Grown Adults And Vice-Versa

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I seldom see coyote pups because the coyote parents I follow are pretty good about sequestering them and keeping their hideouts totally secret.  Although I know generally where pups are hidden due to the trekking patterns of the parents, I stay away from these areas out of respect for them. So when I did see one the other day, out in the open, it was a real treat for me!

At first, when I came upon this pup in the distance, I had to look hard. My initial impression was that it might be an adult newcomer to the area — it was a new face to me and its behavior was also new: coyotes are as unique as humans in how they look and behave, and this is how I tell them apart. But interlopers don’t just wander into an established territory and act “at home”, especially during the pupping season. It was only slowly, as I focused carefully on the face, that I became aware of the similarity between this one and a pup I had seen over a month ago  — so a full month younger — within a half a mile of this location. Might this be that pup?

A four-month-old coyote pup could easily be mistaken for a full-grown adult at first glance, especially when seen at a distance — see the above photo. It turns out that this was the case. Young pups have fairly full coats and bushy tails — not having been through a seasonal shed yet — so at a distance they can look larger and even adult-like! However, up close, and, of course when next to an adult, you can see that they still are youngsters, smaller than the parents, and they definitely still act like “children”, clumsy and inept, who lack the knowledge or skills to survive effectively without the help of their parents.

And, just as often as a pup might be mistaken by most folks as an adult, I have discovered that the opposite is also true. Many people have asked me if one or another of the adults I’ve been observing is a pup. It’s true that adult coyotes at this time of year, appear smaller and with slightly different body contours due to fur changes, making them look puppyish in many ways. At this time of year, all adults have shed their long winter coats, so they, in fact, do look much smaller and lankier, and lighter in color, which makes them look quite a bit more like one might think a puppy would look.

Please keep your dogs away from coyotes, both to protect your dogs and to protect the coyotes. Adult coyotes are more protective of their territories when there are pups around. Because of this, it’s good idea to review a little about coyote behavior, especially towards pets.  Visit the one-stop informational video which I’ve posted before:

This four-year old looks like he did before he turned one -- he has fooled me a couple of times into thinking he was pups

This four-year old looks like he did before he turned one — and is mistaken for being a pup frequently

What Happens to Coyotes When Developers Move In?

area to be developed

the valley over the hill — area to be developed

wildlife becomes displaced

wildlife becomes displaced

where will they go?

where will they go?

I received this note from Andrea in Southern California:

Janet — I came across your blog.  We live in SoCAl on the edge of a canyon. The Carlsbad City Council has approved nearly 600 homes in the valley over the hill from us. Here’s a pano of that valley with my husband and dog, Max, taking what will be one of the last looks before dozers move in. I was able to take some shots and video a few years ago of coyotes. As developers are moving in I expect we will have more coyotes and dens close by our homes. Personally, I love hearing them below our deck or in the distance. We do see scat around. Unfortunately people have lost a number of cats due to leaving them outside.

Thank you for your great blog and photos. Andrea
Yipps: Thank you, Andrea, for sending these. So, what happens to coyotes when developers move in? Yes, coyotes will most likely move in closer to the human neighborhoods. They won’t move out further into the countryside, because there is little countryside left. Coyotes are hugely adaptable and opportunistic. They basically will move into any area where they can safely survive — and almost always this involves moving closer to urban areas where where life is pretty safe. For instance, guns are not allowed. Some of us have become interested in their plight and their behaviors. We’ve learned that indeed humans can live with coyotes as neighbors without expending a whole lot of effort. 
Please see Coyotes As Neighbors: Focus On Facts for a one-stop informational on some easy coexistence facts and guidelines.
[Photos and note come from Andrea Bearden-Kuhns in Southern California]

Coyote Meets Traffic

Even though urban coyotes become accustomed to people and traffic — constantly seeing them makes this inevitable — they retain their wild natures and wariness. They’ll go out of their way to keep a safe distance from folks — fleeing if approached. What could alter this is feeding them — please never feed coyotes. They know to avoid cars, but I’m not sure they understand how extremely lethal cars really are: I’ve seen them wait for a lull in the traffic and then dart across a busy street. Cars, in fact, are one of the chief causes of death of urban coyotes — I’ve known several that were killed by cars.

This coyote here emerged into the open and immediately became spooked by a couple of bikers and by cars. The couple had stopped and was just looking at him. There were lots of cars. The coyote quickly ran into hiding, but only for a moment. Seeing that he wasn’t really in danger, he trotted right out again and went off on a human footpath. Cars saw him and waited. This occurred in one of our busier parks right in the middle of the city and right in the middle of the day.


[Encounter and photos by Judy Reynolds]