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.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Charles Wood
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 09:36:19

    Hi Janet, great series of photographs. On video I got a similar sequence, posted to Coyote Yipps here: https://coyoteyipps.com/2012/09/09/parental-greetings-by-charles-wood/ , beginning about 30 and ending about 40 seconds into the video.

    Those ten seconds show puppy asking Dad for food and Dad refusing the request with a snout bite/nudge. Puppy can’t take no for an answer and thrusts his snout into Dad’s again, and again, and again…. Dad uses the snout bite to refuse each request, having no food for puppy. So I’m inclined to think that pups always want more food and that the snout grab/bite is the parent saying no.

    A few weeks ago I watched an almost full grown scrub jay harassing its parent for food. It is an amusing show to watch, the ‘kid’ having no idea how tiresomely silly its behavior appears, flapping its wings and screaming pathetically, wanting to be fed ‘like before’. The jay child of that size sure looks like it should know where food really comes from. During one such display the parent jay had a half chewed bug in its beak and, after being bewilderingly harassed by its child, the parent dropped the bug. As the baby jay saw the morsel drop from its parents mouth it screamed long and loud: “NoooooOOO!” As the dropped bug and picked up speed on the way to the ground the ‘baby’ jay dove for the bug and screamed all the way down. Both bug and child jay disappeared into the low and heavily leaved branches of a tree. It’s hard to imagine that the child jay could have found that half chewed bug in that jungle, but who knows?

    Then a week or so later, I saw the same two parent and child jays in my yard. The parent was hopping around on the ground scratching fallen leaves, looking for food. The child still seemed glued to the parent. But something had changed. The child would for a moment or two take its eyes off the parent and scratch around too. It still watched the parent though, not letting the parent move far without hopping along with it, and again and again imitating the scratching. The child jay was always alert to whether the parent was about to move or fly off. (I don’t think the child jay was quite able to distinguish between the parent as source of food and the ground as the source of food. If the child jay found any food, I suspect that it would associate the find more with the parent’s activities than its own scratching.) When the parent did fly off the kid did too, having something like “Hey! Wait for me!” visible in its comportment. Someday, when the child jay finds in these forays enough food, when the child jay starts associating food with its own scratching, starts spending more time scratching for food than looking at the parent: that is when the parent jay will get some peace. At least until the next clutch of eggs hatch.

    Reply

    • yipps
      Aug 23, 2013 @ 14:45:55

      Hi Charles —

      Thanks for this — really nice observations — and it’s a great writeup! And, of course, it’s exactly what must be going on with coyote pups at this stage! I particularly love your phrase: “it should know where the food really comes from” — kind of like learning about Santa Claus. The young, for a while, probably do believe the parents just produce that food, in the same manner that milk was produced by the parent! Janet

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