Diverting Attention

The coyote had made herself very visible on the side of the hill during the early dawn hours, sitting there and watching the sparse activity on the path and street below: a few walkers, dog-walkers, workers and traffic. Whenever she spotted a perceived potential *threat*, she ran out onto the path in front of whomever she was worried about, forcing attention towards herself so that the youngster up the hill would not be noticed; or she ran onto the path in back of a dog to make sure dog was moving on. A couple of times she got too close to a dog and the dog reacted by growling and barking. But when the dog and walker moved on with a shortened leash, as I advised, that was always the end of it: this is what the coyote wanted.

I looked up and saw the youngster there watching the goings-on. When looked at directly, he moved to a bushier part of the hill and watched from behind the thicker foliage — this was a shy one.

Soon Mom headed down the street a ways while maintaining eye-contact with the youngster, and then she stood in the middle of the street, eyeing the youngster repeatedly. At this point, it became apparent that she was trying to coax the youth in her direction so that she could take him away from the open space. He was too fearful, and during her ten minute effort he did not come. So Mom returned to the hill and sat there close to the path, again drawing attention to herself apparently as a ploy to keep attention away from the kid. It worked: no one saw the kid except me while I observed.

By the next day, the youngster had still not left that space. Maybe reinforcements were needed to entice the little guy to leave, because now, there were two adult females with him. I spotted the three of them sleeping together on the incline before dawn.  The second female was much more reclusive than the first one — she made no attempt to serve as a decoy. Instead, she, too, remained as hidden as possible, similarly to the youngster, while the first female performed as she had the previous day. You would have thought that during the night there might have been a change in the situation, but there had not been.

On the third day, the lot was vacant! I guess the two adult females had accomplished their mission! The day before had been one of the few times I had seen that particular second female whose relationship to the family I have not figured out. Some coyotes are much more reclusive than others. Most likely, she would be related: either a yearling pup herself from the year before, a sister, or even a parent or aunt of the mother coyote. Coyotes are territorial, and it’s only family groups that live in any particular vicinity, keeping all other coyotes — intruders — out of the picture. This is one reason they feel territorial towards dogs.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cindie
    Jan 10, 2018 @ 20:57:10

    What a fascinating, in depth, amazing story. So grateful for the intimate view. Thank you.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Jan 10, 2018 @ 21:30:04

      Hi Cindie —
      Thank you! Most folks tend to see a coyote without looking at the whole picture. I’m trying to let them to know that there’s always a lot going on — that there are reasons for a coyote’s behavior. By the way, if you are in the Bay Area anytime from January 28th to March 10th, I have an exhibit that you might be interested in: Coyotes: Beyond the Howl.

  2. Bobbie Pyron
    Jan 10, 2018 @ 21:30:44

    Fascinating dynamics and, as always, great photos


  3. Cindie
    Jan 18, 2018 @ 21:30:00

    Janet! I’m so lucky to have noticed Coyote Yipps comments have been going to my spam folder since December. Odd. I just pulled them all out and am going back to read all the comments that have been posted since then and noticed the one above about Coyotes: Beyond the Howl! WOW!! So awesome. I will definitely try very hard to come up and see your exhibit! Do you ever do live presentations or hang out at the exhibit (not as much fun as hanging out with coyotes ;) And do you ever sell your photographs?


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Jan 18, 2018 @ 22:58:42

      Hi Cindie — I’ll be posting about the exhibit in a few days, and also sending an email to people who have commented on the blog. I don’t sell anything: if anyone is interested in a print, it’s theirs for the asking (as long as I’m given credit!!). I have given informal informational *discussions*, where I first ask folks to look at any of my videos and then I answer questions. I’m an animal person because I’m more comfortable with them than with people, generally! If you come, let me know, because I would love to meet you! :)) Janet

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