A female pup, again, runs so as to insert herself between Dad and her male sibling, and then turns towards Dad with an affectionate little mouth nip, and then grabs his snout in her mouth! Hmmm. Normally, as far as I’ve seen, this gesture is reserved for dominant members of the family, or between siblings. I’m wondering, possibly, if, being the only female in the family pack now, she has acquired special status? Or, is this simply family bantering with the understanding that, “Oh, I’m just playing”? The male sibling on the far side, walks on with his head lowered and with his ears low and airplaned out to the sides — he may be wary of what’s going on.
Although less than a year old, the female youngster is recognized in the family for her “difference” from the others, if not actually for her “female” status. She’s the only one I’ve seen in this family regularly lying on her back with her reproductive parts being sniffed with interest by the others.
We’ve learned that female reproductive hormones kick-in when there is no other reproducing female around, and that only one female — the “alpha” — in any coyote family pack reproduces. The alpha-mother of this particular family has disappeared from the pack, leaving a void. When alpha-females are killed or removed by human “management”, or if they die or become unable to reproduce, the other females in the pack fill in the void by becoming reproductively viable. As far as I know, it does not happen under a year of age, so maybe none of this is relevant. But, then again, maybe it is? I’m speculatively throwing this out as food for thought at this point.