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.

Another Cat Scares Off a Coyote

coyote sniffs something interesting under a bush

Within seconds, a cat jumps out of the bush and chases the coyote away

The coyote flees for protection to behind a guard-rail. The cat keeps an eye on her.

Months ago I watched a cat take a walk with its owner. I had never seen a cat do this, but was told that this cat walked regularly like this, and for some distance. Sounds like a uniquely special cat to me. So I alerted the owner that a coyote hung around the area. Yes, the owner knew about the coyote: it turned out that the coyote and the cat had a special, mutually respectful relationship. Yes, I thought, it was a very special cat — or the coyote was a very special coyote.

So a few days ago I watched this coyote sniffing for something under the bushes. I wondered what she was sniffing for, until the cat popped out and scared the coyote away. Yes, scared the coyote away. The coyote ran off and found protection behind a guardrail where she waited for that cat to go, but the cat took his time, possibly testing his power over the coyote. He was smart enough not to turn his back on the coyote, but remained facing her.

I caught several shots of the coyote’s very worried expression. She looked ready to flee if that cat came towards her.

The coyote even gestures with her tongue, “Peace, please?”

Eventually the cat took off and the coyote, then, proceeded again to sniff for whatever was under the bush. Obviously it hadn’t been the cat the coyote was sniffing out because the cat had gone.  This time she came out with something. It was a dead bird, which probably had been left by the cat. The coyote ate it: coyotes are opportunistic eaters and can eat anything lying around.

Finally, the cat gives up first

Coyote goes back for what she had wanted in the first place — it was not the cat, but something left by the cat.

So this turned out to be an interesting little triangle: cat, coyote, bird. The cat caught the bird but left it probably because of the coyote’s presence in the bush — even this brave cat appears to know not to get itself too close to the snout of a coyote! Neither animal felt at-ease enough to hunt while the other animal was so close. By the way, many of the animals that coyotes eat are carrion: they were killed by cars or another animal and then found by the coyote. And yes, as you can see, coyotes eat birds.

Again, as I’ve stated before, please do not allow your cats to roam free. Coyotes are uniquely individual, each with it’s own unique personality, temperament, habits and even family culture, and you won’t know how a coyote will react to a cat until after the fact. Most coyotes will opportunistically grab a cat if it appears within sight, not run from it! And most cats, left to roam free, will snag little birds.

Next Newer Entries