Yodeling and Yipping Are Achieved Through Mouth Movements

This video shows one of two coyotes who are yipping back and forth together. You can clearly see how she uses her mouth muscles — pulling them back or pushing them forward — to achieve the yipping or yodeling sounds. Humans do this too, but we have the additional use of our tongues which allows us to produce speech.

Many people mistake these high-pitched coyote yips for pup sounds when they can’t see who is making them, but as you can see here, it is adults who are making the sounds! These two coyotes began this yipping session after ambulance sirens were heard — which is a common response by coyotes.

A Dog Chase Can Prime A Coyote’s Suspicions About Other Dogs

This morning, I observed a coyote’s “protective mode” kick-in and then linger-on for a while. I’ll try to explain what I mean.

A female coyote was out in a park before dawn, sticking to the park’s edges and hedges as she casually hunted. She just wanted to be left alone to hunt her fill of voles and gophers — critters which tunnel underground. A few runners, walkers and dogs passed by — some noticing her and vice-versa, and some not. When notice of each other was taken, it was taken in-stride by all: humans, dogs, and coyote.


Unleashed dog sees coyote and chases after it

Then a runner who in the past has thrown fits of defiance when asked to leash — “her dog wouldn’t chase coyotes,” she said — came running by with her unleashed dog leading the way. The dog saw the coyote and, of course, made a bee-line for it. The coyote dashed to get away but, as the dog continued its pursuit, the coyote turned around to face her pursuer. In the meantime, the coyote’s “other half” — the male of the pair, who had been resting in the bushes — saw the goings-on and came to the female’s defense. This male will protect his female. And the dog, of course, was now outnumbered and overwhelmed. When this happens, some dogs freeze, not knowing what to do, and it was no different this time. At this point, the runner ran in to retrieve her dog, leashed it, and then ran on, miffed.

Okay, you might think that the incident was over, that the woman runner may now reconsider leashing her dog when coyotes are out (which she has for the few days since) and that is a good thing. But the incident was not over. The coyotes now were “primed”: suspicious, and in “defensive-mode”. I’ve seen this behavior a number of times: where once their defensive-mode kicks in, usually due to being chased, their suspicions and readiness for another incident remains heightened for a while.

While “she” lolled over to an edge of the park and continued hunting for gophers, “he” lay down, claiming a little patch of ground, while keeping a protectively watchful eye on her, and at the same time, keeping a lookout for repeat treatment either from another dog, or maybe from the same dog.

No “suspects” presented themselves, so after not too long, he got up and trotted in her direction. High-pitched barking of a dog from behind a solid wooden fence now began — some dogs can sense the presence of coyotes, even without seeing them.  The male coyote, still suspicious and on-alert, checked out the fence separating him from the yappy dog. But all was secure, so the little dog could not be reached — just annoyingly heard. (This is where the male acquired his cobwebs which I wrote about in the last posting).


Two coyotes who have been “primed” into their protective mode, begin to follow a small dog

There was no threat to the coyotes here, so both coyotes then meandered up a path to leave the area, but a woman with her little Jack Russell now appeared coming towards them. I asked the woman to shorten her leash which she did and she moved off the path, taking a short-cut so as not to get any closer to the coyotes. As she did so, the coyotes themselves trotted away from her and then turned to watch. The coyotes watched her for a moment, and then one of the coyotes, the female this time, began following, and soon the male, too, followed. The woman turned to face the coyotes, which caused the coyotes to freeze and stop advancing. It was the perfect thing to do. But every time the woman then turned to move on, the coyotes continued to follow.

Fleeing from the possibility of a rock missile

Fleeing from the possibility of a rock missile

I suggested she lean down to pick up a rock, which she did — to hold on to “just in case”, she told me — and when she did this, the coyotes hurried off the path and away. They seemed to know this meant business.  Owner and dog then walk on out of the picture. Their moving away from the coyotes showed the coyotes that the owner and dog were not interested in them, which caused the coyotes to lose interest in her and her dog. The coyotes relaxed, spent some time grooming, and then climbed a rock to survey the area from a high vantage point. A runner passed, thrilled that he could see urban coyotes.

A third dog-walker whose dogs growled at the coyote. She walked them on, and away from the coyote.

A third dog-walker whose dogs growled at the coyote. She walked them on, and away from the coyote.

Then one last walker with two large dogs appeared from behind the rocks. One of the dogs saw the male coyote and vice-versa. The dog growled at the coyote who was several hundred feet away. This pricked the coyote’s interest in them — so the coyote headed in the dog’s direction, not getting close, but in clear view. Remember that his suspicion and defensiveness were still running high.  The woman leashed and walked on and away from them — she, too, did the right thing. Walking AWAY from coyotes is the best option always. After watching them walk away — walking away showed him that they were not interested in him — the male coyote turned and went in the opposite direction, until he came to a dense thicket into which he disappeared.

Please Don’t Feed The Coyotes!


[Situation report and photo by Nathan & Yvonne]

This coyote on Rodeo Beach has been wandering around trying to get food from people. Folks are blaming this behavior on the belief that the coyote has become used to people. But “getting used to people” — known as “habituation” — does not cause coyotes to approach people for food, or to approach people at all.  Coyotes actually are naturally wary of people and, habituated or not, will do their best to avoid us. What causes coyotes to approach people for food is the act of feeding them in the first place. It’s called food-conditioning. Feed them once, and they’ll start coming back for more.

“Habituation” and “food-conditioning” are totally different things. Coyotes in all urban centers get used to people and this is not necessarily a bad thing for people, pets or  coyotes. However, food-conditioning may actually cause coyotes to approach people and it causes problems. Such coyotes hang around in the wrong places. They could become belligerent in their demands for food. And if hand fed, they could end up biting the hand that feeds them.

Many people think they should “scare” coyotes whenever they see them to keep them fearful of people. This is not so. In fact, coyotes often get used to being scared off by people and learn to ignore the tactic. It’s a technique which should be used sparingly if at all. If you are a dog owner, please leash and walk the other way the minute they see a coyote. Keeping the distance between your dog and the coyote is your best insurance against incidents. Incidents really don’t happen all that often — proximity is what sets them off.

And please don’t feed coyotes. By doing so, you are creating the potential for injury to yourself, and the possibility of death for the coyote. People often want to “eliminate” coyotes who approach people or appear bold.

A Cobweb Fur Day


Maybe you’ve had a bad hair day? Well, I found a coyote who was having a cobweb fur day! What I first noticed was a black mark on his face, which I thought represented an injury of some sort. I tried to photograph him face-on so that I could zero-in on the exact nature of the marking. Before I could figure it out, I detected an odd anomaly in what I thought was the background as I snapped my photos.


I wondered to myself what that background messiness was. Then, I noticed that this background anomaly actually ALWAYS appeared between the coyote’s ears. Ahhh, it wasn’t the background, it was something ON the coyote! I soon figured out that it was cobwebs that had become stuck on and between his ears, as though he was wearing them! How funny!


The black mark soon disappeared, and the sticky cobwebs soon, apparently, slipped off of his ears and down to one of his eyes — my next photos wouldn’t produce a clear eye, but kept showing a blurred or messy eye. Again, I had to zero-in to figure it out. I wonder how much it was hampering him, if at all — possibly giving him a bad hair day? It was a rather intense day, which I’ll post about next time.


Going back over my photos, I was able to locate exactly where he had picked these up. It was among brambles outside someone’s fence where he had gone to investigate the barking on the other side of the fence. By the way, it’s a great fence: “good fences make good neighbors”, and this one keeps dog and coyote neighbors “good”.

Intense Focus on Approaching Danger

This coyote’s focus on the tumultuous dog activity up ahead on a path was intense. The dogs were playing, chasing and barking at one another, but to a coyote the approaching spurt of activity and noise spelled possible danger.  All had been calm and quiet a moment before. As the dogs got closer, the coyote lowered himself closer to the ground and then slithered, undetected, out of sight and away from any possible encounters or interactions.






%d bloggers like this: