Pup at 8 Months Still Getting Food From Dad

Although I could not see the details because this occurred within a tree grove, there is enough information here to see that the full-sized, though only 8-month-old, pup approaches its father for food by sticking its snout into the father’s mouth. Apparently, the pup gets something because its attention is on the ground in the second photo, and it stays behind to “finish up” whatever Dad had given him in the third photo.

At 8 months of age a pup does not need help from its father in getting food. However, giving the pup food tightens the strong bond which already exists and may keep the family together for a longer period of time.

A Long Winter’s Nap?

coyote sleeping in a hidden spot of sunshine

coyote sleeping in a hidden spot of sunshine with paws over its face

I can’t believe I spotted this little coyote asleep this way — tucked in under a tree in a spot of sunshine! Without the sun right on him, I would never have seen him. It’s almost too cute with his paws curled up over his snout. I wanted to post it for the holidays and to wish you all Peace and Goodwill amongst humans and animals!

To make it fit in with the season, I wanted to call this posting “a long winter’s nap” — but after thinking about it, I added a question mark. At this time of year, the nights are the longest they’ll be all year, so it’s appropriate to call a full night’s sleep a “long winter’s nap.” But this is sort of reversed for coyotes.

Although coyotes are not nocturnal, they have adapted their schedules in order to avoid humans and human activity during the day. For the most part, they are out and about at dawn, dusk and nighttime, and they spend the vast portion of daylight hours hidden away and sleeping.

So since there are fewer daylight hours right now, it occurred to me that maybe coyotes are actually getting only ” a short winter’s nap”?  If that is the case, they’re probably making up for any lost daytime sleep by taking nighttime “catnaps” when they need them!

It’s The Winter Solstice!

Coyote youngster with thick neck and breast fur for the winter

Coyote youngster with thick fur for the winter

Winter’s darkest day is today — it’s the shortest day of the year and the beginning of Winter!

In case you’ve forgotten, solstice means “stationary sun.”  The sun stands still at 5:11 pm on December 21, which is today. The winter solstice north of the equator always occurs on or around December 21st, give or take 24 hours. The US will get only 9 and 1/2 hours of light this day! Up until the winter solstice, the sun moves southward a little each day, and the days become shorter. As the sun approaches the solstice, this southward march slows down, and at the solstice the sun stops its movement south and pauses, motionless: that will occur at 5:11pm for us! Then after the solstice, it will reverse itself and move a little more northward in the sky each day, and the days will become incrementally longer again.

How does this affect coyotes?

Food chains all begin with plant growth. Plants require plenty of daylight to thrive. Fewer daylight hours mean plants cease or slow down their growth at this time of year. So there are fewer growing plants to feed the voles and gophers, and therefore fewer voles and gophers to feed the coyotes — these are their favorite foods in San Francisco. Animals cope with winter in a number of ways: by migrating, hibernating or adapting. Coyotes adapt.

One of the things they adapt is their diets, by eating other foods which are available at this time of year: foods such as pine seeds, and bark or insects in the bark as shown in the two photos below, which I thought was pretty interesting! They are known as “opportunistic” eaters, which means they can eat just about anything. Coyotes will still eat voles and gophers — but because there are fewer of them, they must supplement their diets at this time of year.

It may be because gophers and voles are not so plentiful in the fields that coyote youngsters are out more alone or in pairs now, rather than foraging all together with the entire family, as they did earlier in the year. Coyote youngsters may also be out alone more because they are feeling much more self-reliant and independent at this time of their lives, after all, the next step in their development will be dispersal.

Note that coyote coats are at their fullest at this time of year. Coyote fur can be over 4 inches in length and can make them look much bigger than they look during the summer when their fur is at its shortest and sparsest.

Trounced by a Father

Dad trounces a pup

Dad trounces a pup, 2nd youngster looks on with lowered ears

I observed another pup pommeling by its parent a few mornings ago. This time, it was a father coyote who interjected himself into the fun of his two coyote pups who were excitedly wrestling and and chasing each other. It was very dark, but I was able to capture some images, and, of course, I heard the high pitched, complaining “squeals” from the youngster being trounced. The pup took the beating lying on its back, as the second youngster just looked on with lowered ears. Then, all three coyotes — Dad and two pups — moved to a location not too far off, where the pups continued to play and Dad watched.  Dad actually seemed to be trying to lead them away, but he stopped indulgently, standing there, and watched their fun. After about 10 minutes of this, they all trotted off in a single file after Dad and into hiding.

Why had the Dad trounced the youngster? Had the pups been playing too “rough”? Had one been trying to dominate the other? Did Dad just need to establish some order, or maybe restore his hierarchy in this pack, the way the mother had in the other family pack I wrote about?

These pups here are 8 months old: full-sized, but still pups.

Coyote Connect, by Monique

I have lived near coyotes my whole life, but a few days ago, I saw something that I have no explanation for, perhaps you can watch this short video I did and give me your feedback.  I have my theory.

Please note that from our kitchen window we watched this coyote hunting for mice, when 2 of my 3 dogs came down the hill from their morning wander on the crown land behind our place, the coyote looked for cover and hid until they went by, I was at first concerned for my dogs, but once I could see he was not hunting I put my dogs in the house and went out to film, what you see is exactly as it happened.

Towards the end of the first clip you can hear my husband saying “Sarge (3rd dog) is coming up behind.” Indeed he was , he had stopped and watched the coyote from about 70 feet behind him.  The coyote was unaware of the dogs presence until my husband said something and then he stopped playing ( 1st clip end ) he was listening to my husbands voice and still did not see Sarge until I said something to Sarge sparking him to move, the coyote then turned around and saw him and fled.

The coyote’s actions were directed at me, you can see he is at first nervous of me, then I say “it’s okay” and everything changes.  I wont spoil the surprise, :-)   cheers M

It’s a beautiful video, and it does seem quite magical with the snow and your added piano! The coyote’s movements come across as a beautiful dance!

As for what is going on, it’s a little more mundane. Coyotes do this often when they are excited and frightened at the same time, especially young coyotes. See this one:  http://youtu.be/4aYW7oE_KqI .  I have seen it often when a dog or a human is approaching them, even from a substantial distance. They are very curious. They don’t quite want to flee due to curiosity, and they don’t quite want to approach any closer due to fear: they are caught between the two, so their energy causes them to bounce up and down a little — it’s charming and endearing. The bouncing also gives them a clearer view over a distance. This was an absolutely beautiful “coyote connect!” What a gorgeous video! Thank you, Monique, for sharing this magical moment!

Hi Janet, thanks so much for your feedback. I film wildlife when ever I can, as it is my passion.  I have had pretty good luck with catching things on camera, this included. I really should learn more about behaviours, so I appreciate your feedback. I have had plenty of encounters with coyotes, but none like this.  It is good to understand him/her more.  I hope to film this coyote some more, providing he/she is willing…lol… You absolutely can post on your blog.

Siblings: Diametric Opposites

“Careful and Dependent” spends her time waiting and watching

Today a coyote youngster was in an open area. This coyote can be characterized as “careful and and dependent”. She’s wary and not willing to take chances, unlike her siblings. Today she had planted herself in a safe location near some bushes — she could escape to the bushes if necessary from any harm. From here she watched her surroundings, and she waited. She seemed to be waiting for a family member — someone familiar —  to appear on the scene.

Soon a sibling did appear on a hilltop, a sibling who has a dramatically different personality type from the one just described. I’ve observed their different personality types right from the start, nothing has changed from day one: just like humans, there is a lot which is innate and unique about each coyote. This one, in contrast to the previous one, could be characterized as “adventuresome and independent”.

The adventurer saw her sibling in the field below and ran down to greet her, happily, caringly, affectionately, and the shy coyote ran to greet her: there was joy and camaraderie.  Both coyotes then wandered around for a short time, and then the adventuresome one headed off to forage, hunt and explore the area beyond view. She was more interested in her explorations than in the other coyote, whereas the shyer coyote kept her eye on the more adventuresome one until she was out of sight.

When the shy one sees the adventuresome one (left),  she runs to be with her (middle), but I’m in the way, so she turns back to her safety spot and remains there (right).

The shy coyote lay down to watch and wait again once her more adventuresome sibling was out of view. The adventuresome coyote seems to serve as a protector and role model for this shy one.

When the adventurer eventually re-appeared in the distance, the shy coyote jumped up and ran full speed to be with her. But  the adventurer had not been aware that the timid coyote was running towards her. The adventurer turned back and away again as the timid one struggled to catch up. That’s when she saw she had come too close to me and would have to pass me to get to where she was going.  She stopped. Apparently it was not worth the risk for her to follow her sibling. Instead she returned to her protected area where she waited again for awhile and then turned in for the day.

Meanwhile, the adventurer spent the entire morning not too far away, discovering new places to dig up gophers, and spreading her wings a little bit more.

Pup Shows Up, but Mom Does Not

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Dad and the trounced female pup who is 7 months old

Four days after the female pup and her mother disappeared — the mother actually disappeared a couple of days before the pup — the pup re-emerged together with Dad!  Apparently she had not been banished, she had not dispersed. Interestingly, however, it is the mother who has not been seen — its been three weeks, and I wonder if her absence is related to her treatment of the pup, or if  she’s gone purely by coincidence.

I saw a lot of affectionate nudging and nose touching between the pup and Dad — something I was particularly aware of after the falling-out with Mom. Dad lay down for a while, positioning himself on a spot with a view to watch his surroundings. The pup mulled about, remaining close by him at first, but then slowly increasing her distance from him and spent her time foraging for gophers. She kept her eye on Dad and vice-versa, each gazing at the other at regular intervals. There was definitely a caring connection between the two.

At one point the pup picked up an old piece of plastic, lay down and played with it — she seemed content and comfortable there. Eventually both pup and Dad wandered into the bushes, and I didn’t see them the next day.

Two days later, again, I came upon this same pup and Dad out trekking alone together!! I don’t think I would have seen them if they hadn’t been accosted by a dog and responded by howling in distress — both of them. The important thing for me was that there was a lot of togetherness and camaraderie shown by Dad, and the sentiment was returned by the pup. They howled together, then ran off separately, and then came together to continue their trek. So, this pup is still around, and I wonder what the trouncing was about!