A Chapter Ends

An entire family left their long-time claimed territory, leaving one daughter behind. I thought the vast territory had become hers. For several months, I would find her all alone. And then one day, there were two newcomers with her — both males!

I could tell that she was apprehensive about them for the first little while after they appeared. She kept a squinted, wary eye on them as they loitered around fairly close to each other until dusk darkened the sky and enveloped the landscape. She was assessing them, and they her. Dusk is when she’d usually head off trekking alone, and soon I watched as three of them went off together, not with complete confidence in each other as one would expect in an established family, but they were figuring each other out, and figuring out their relationships, through darting eye-glances: coyotes communicate visually and everything they did sent a message and was interpreted as a message.  I watched these three for the next few weeks as they became more obviously trusting and comfortable with each other. Right from the start, though, she showed a preference for the dark-eyed fella: he was the obvious dominant of the two, and maybe this had everything to do with her choice.

After the first few days during which she showed them “her domain”, they mostly hung-out on their knolls waiting for dusk to come around, and I watched the relationship progress from her being totally “in charge” and leading the howling sessions (in this first video, you can see him ignore the siren until she reacts):

. . . to ‘her chosen fella’ taking charge and leading the chorus when sirens sounded. Note that, although she appeared to have “chosen” her fella early on, the “possessive display” continues, and you’ll see this at the end of these two howling videos.

It wasn’t long before I observed an all-out, no-holds-barred play session: they were in a sand-pit a long distance off and it was dark, but I got this photo above, showing them playing as coyotes do when they like each other: chasing, wrestling, and play-beating up one another in a teasing sort of way. And then, within only a few days of that out-and-out play, the pair was gone. They are now gone and have been for weeks. So, I guess the lady of the house’s new beau came in and swept her off her feet and they loped away into the sunset together to hopefully live happily ever after — isn’t that how these stories are supposed to go? I wonder if I’ll see them again.

Since their departure, I’ve only seen the extra-male a few times: the beautiful pale blue-eyed fellow below. But now he, too is gone. The field has been totally vacant for weeks. The family that left had been there twelve full years I’m told by a fellow observer who knew the Dad from the time he was a mere pup. That fellow observer ceased appearing because the coyotes had. So there’s a big void there right now. I suppose my assumption that the vast territory had become “hers” is incorrect. It’s a coyote no-mans land right now.

Twelve years ago, before this family claimed it as their own, there had been a territorial battle between two families here. I was told that one of the families was so vengeful that it went after and slaughtered the pups of the rival family. Then all families disappeared and only one youngster remained there. He became the owner for the next twelve years until last fall. This story came from my fellow observer who, I can verify, has been an astute and accurate observer and could even identify individual coyotes in the dark (which I still have not mastered). There is no reason not to believe the story. I’m relating it to show just how intense and brutal territorial battles can get: that the battles are fierce shows just how important the land is to coyotes for their survival.

I’m hoping someone comes back soon: it might be the old family, it might be this recently formed pair, it might be the extra-male, or it might be someone never seen before: vacant niches tend to be filled, so let’s see. Of interest to me, as noted in my very last posting, is that observable coyote activity is way down in almost all the territories I study, and may be due to the upcoming pupping season.


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cindie White
    Feb 06, 2019 @ 00:20:31

    Dear Janet. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    I don’t know how to describe with words the effect your stories have on me…so deep they are, down to the viscera and bone. Tears streaming down my face. Why? I resonate and feel these coyotes deeply through your stories – and have the privilege to participate in the fullness of their lives from extreme sadness to joy and loss to relationship – all a mirror of human life and the mysteries in me.

    -I am enlivened to know she found a mate. Yet I wonder and worry: are they safe?
    -I am sad they are gone and curious if they will return.

    Life is enormous when we are open and present to feel all of it. Thank you for being a magnificent guide.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Feb 06, 2019 @ 05:33:59

      Hi Cindie! What a fantastic compliment — I can’t begin to tell you how much your words mean to me! Thank you for your thoughtfulness and generosity, and thank you for being part of my blog family! :)) Janet

  2. Gail
    Feb 06, 2019 @ 01:15:37

    I can feel the void! Sad to see read about them leaving so can only imagine how you feel, Janet, and I DO hope it’s due to denning/pup season.

    Question about the second videos of coyotes howling: How many coyotes in total responsible for the serenade? I only saw two.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Feb 06, 2019 @ 05:29:13

      Hi Gail! Thanks for your comment. The first video is simply of the two coyotes who appear visually in the video. The second video indeed has a third coyote who is in the chorus, but is not pictured. :)) Janet

  3. Hilary Cole
    Feb 06, 2019 @ 21:57:29

    Hi Janet.. Thanks you so much for your fantastic ongoing article. The video and pictures are amazing. They are truly beautiful animals, you are so lucky to be able to see them in person, and your continuing story of this particular coyote has been brilliant 💕 I do hope, now they have left, that they will be safe, even come back, be interesting to Know in the future. Also hope the male left behind, eventually finds a mate of his own…
    Thanks again for an amazing article..
    Hilary. Ole 😊


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Feb 06, 2019 @ 23:13:37

      Thank you, Hilary! Coyotes in the various territories I document have revealed amazingly different stories to me. The events over the last little while in this particular territory needed to be connected as one: together they formed this poignant saga which pulls at our heart-strings and people can relate to! I appreciate your thoughts and comment! Janet

  4. Hilary Cole
    Feb 06, 2019 @ 21:59:15

    PS: Don’t know where the Ole came from 😃 at the end…
    Hilary 😊


  5. kwatts2
    Feb 08, 2019 @ 18:18:06

    Thanks for posting this! I remember when this family moved in twelve years ago, it was a good run!


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