Nine Years Old: Happy Birthday Silver!

He just had his birthday a week ago. I see him less now that he’s older: oldsters appear to become a little bit more guarded about their physical selves than when they were younger. I actually had to go look for him to find him — I wanted to post what a nine-year old coyote male looked like. He’s past his prime and very wise. He knows the ins-and-outs of being an urban coyote: he avoids people and dogs as much as possible, and I know I’ve helped by advising everyone to leash and walk away whenever they see him (or any other coyotes).

I first met this guy, sort of, before he was born, by knowing his mom, by seeing her swell in size and then slim down after his and his brother’s birth. I have the exact date. However, I didn’t meet him physically until he was 4 or 5 months old. This is one of several coyotes I’ve known since birth — and for him it’s been 9 years now! His entire personality has matured over time, as is true of most of the older coyotes I know. They are stellar and stable neighbors!

I watched his puppyhood, and then how his camaraderie with his brother — they were the best of friends — changed into intense sibling rivalry as they vied for a mate. He had his first litter when he was four years old. His mate disappeared after that so he paired up again, and has been having small litters (one pup each) for the last 3 years. He’s a dad again this year, but I won’t know anything about his pups for 4-5 months. He’s a protective mate and a protective dad. It’s important to abide by his wishes and keep away.

Today, I saw him before dawn as he was headed in for the daylight hours — into his daytime resting spot — but he decided to take a short roundabout trek before doing so, the way he always has. He knows me well and allows my presence. He sniffed along the pathway as he walked, assessing *who* (in terms of dogs) had been on the path he was on, and he looked around. I’m sure he knows all of the regular dogs in the park, and their behaviors. He stopped when he reached one of his favorite lookouts, and there he looked around his entire domain. He was on top of the world and he could see everything.

This coyote and his family have *owned* the land since I first met his parents 10 years ago. No other coyotes have been allowed into this territory. There have been several intruders over the years, but they were immediately and unconditionally driven out. His dense and long fur — still thick from the winter — conceals the tell-tale scars of age on his face and body which can be seen in June and July when the fur has all been shed.

At his lookout, he immediately went into alert-mode, I could tell, indicating that there were dogs, even though in the distance, which he did not feel comfortable seeing. He has been chased often by dogs, and sometimes he has stood up for himself. Here, he stood up, and warily and tensely watched some dog/human duos, but when they passed he lay down, and there was a period of relaxation. He must have been tired: he lay his head down, but I’m sure he kept his eyes on things — I couldn’t really tell because I was in back of him.

After this period of surveying his territory, for about half an hour, he decided it was time to head in before more people and dogs appeared in the park. So he got up, stretched, and then sauntered along the same path but in the opposite direction, with me some distance behind. He suddenly stopped: dead still. Two dogs saw him and ran in his direction. They were excited, alert and ready. The coyote’s mood changed quickly from a relaxed, elongated walk, to a compact run, with ears turned back so as to be able to hear everything. He retraced his steps back to his lookout, but to a higher altitude than before: he was anxious.  I asked the owner to please call his dogs, which the owner did. Silver remained standing and watching until the dogs were well out of sight, and then he again retraced his steps “home” again, but this time off the path and along a fenceline.  He was still worked up: he ate some grass and then heaved, with his stomach pumping in-and-out forcefully, until he was able to regurgitate the contents of his anxious/acid tummy.

His pace was now slow again, keeping to the fenceline until he was forced to take the path because of where he was going. He looked around as he now followed the path, stopping repeatedly as he did so. When a runner turned on a path ahead he again became alert; he stopped and waited. He was not seen. When all was clear, he went a little further on the path and then veered off into the tall grasses and then the bushes. So, this was an hour in the life of a nine-year old male, father, mate and territory claimant. Coyotes in captivity can live as long as 14 to 16 years, but in the wild their lives have been estimated to be closer to five years. We’re still learning what their lifespan is in urban settings. Nine-years shows that he’s just as viable, if not more careful, as ever!

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cindie White
    Apr 23, 2018 @ 05:52:32

    Lovely. Sheer beauty. Thank you.

    Reply

  2. Carolyn K. Doswell
    Apr 23, 2018 @ 16:09:14

    Happy Birthday beautiful one.

    Reply

  3. Grossman Alex
    Apr 23, 2018 @ 23:10:19

    A wonderful story you’ve shared. Thank you.

    Reply

  4. Deborah Phillips
    Apr 28, 2018 @ 13:31:21

    So wonderful to read (and see) such a positive appreciation for this beautiful but maligned creature. Made my morning.

    Reply

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