Even before mating, the alphas in any coyote family (the established adult mated pair) start preparing for “the event” of the birth of a new litter of pups. Only the alphas in any coyote family reproduce, which has the effect of limiting the population density in any given territory and area (see Frank Knowlton in 1972). The process begins months beforehand, when the female ensures that she alone will be the one within the family and on the family’s territory to produce offspring. Her objective is to become the one and only Queen Bee.

Female offspring who have “come of age” so that they are reproductively viable — usually during their second year — become viewed as possible reproductive competition to their mothers. The alphas are extremely jealous and possessive of their mates at this time. Their ploy involves several tactics, including simply keeping yearling females away from their Dad. This, in-and-of-itself wouldn’t do the trick since there are many instances when daughter and father could find themselves together when Mom was not around. So another tactic is a little rougher, and this video shows how it happens: a mother wallops her yearling daughter to either disperse her or to instill fear so she won’t reproduce.  Apparently stress blocks reproduction. I don’t know if these bio-functions are involved, but it seems that they may be. In the video, note the angry, low-tone growls which are so much quieter than their howls. Here you have communication to one individual, not everyone. 

Towards the end of this period of antagonism towards yearling daughter, which can go on for months, courting and mating take place between the alphas (see Courting Behavior and Courting Behavior in Full Swing). Then and only then, after estrus is well over and Mom is plump with developing offspring, will Mom begin to slowly relax her antagonistic behavior towards daughter, and slowly things calm down again between the two into a state of normalcy approximating what it had been like before the reproductive cycle headed this way.

As the time of birthing nears, I’ve noticed that the birthing moms are less out-in-the-open. This may be due to their becoming more protective of the treasures they are holding inside, but it also could be that they are busy with other things, for instance, this is when dens are dug.

Here is a female who has plumped up during pregnancy.

But the female isn’t the only one to change her behaviors for this event. Also, Dad becomes very protective of the female. I never saw this Dad become aggressive towards his yearling son, however, one day the son was gone. Had the son crossed the line — gotten too close to the female who was his mom? — I don’t know. Dad’s job during the birthing process will be to stay away and to stand sentry. He will position himself not far from the den where he will remain for hours on end, keeping an eye out for any possible trouble. Birthing puts coyotes into a very vulnerable situation, which is why the job of protector is so important.

So, the next step is pups. I stay well away from anywhere I suspect there might be a den, so it will be months before I see what she produced.

The expectant parents: any day now!

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gail
    Mar 31, 2018 @ 01:18:10

    Up close and personal – thanks, Janet. Kind of sad for the offspring who probably didn’t have a clue. Tough lessons.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Mar 31, 2018 @ 03:21:57

      Hi Gail — Yes, I’m absolutely sure that the youngster female had no idea why Mom was treating her so badly. But things have calmed down a whole lot, so I think she’ll remain part of the family, which I doubted a while back. :))

  2. Carolyn K. Doswell
    Mar 31, 2018 @ 17:36:23

    This is Nature’s way of stopping inbreeding which causes deformities.


  3. Sarah Asleep
    Mar 31, 2018 @ 21:31:33

    So love this web page. Thank you much <3


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