Mood Swings: Two Different Days

It’s mating time for the coyotes and, guess what? The female is going through mood swings. A surge in hormones can do this. It sounds eerily familiar, doesn’t it?

This female’s normal behavior is to be totally aloof. She goes off on her own on what I call lengthy “pre-treks”, and then comes back to join her mate afterwards. HE has grown conservative and guarded as he has aged, so he’s not out in the open so early as she is. He routinely awaits for her return from her pre-trek to emerge in dimmer light, and then they engage in a greeting which normally entails him approaching her in a dominant stance and her folding over on her side compliantly before they go trotting off together to go hunting.

Now, during the mating season, there have been changes in their behaviors towards each other and from one day to the next.

For the last week or so, the male has been seen out earlier with the female, keeping a vigilant eye on her and shadowing her much more closely than is normal for him — he seems exceptionally protective and possessive (or jealous and suspicious)! His is an almost overbearing presence compared to her aloofness and independence.

On this day, I found her already hunting as I entered the park. When a siren sounded, she yipped in response, and then the male, who was hidden in the bushes, joined the chorus. This is the full length of the howl, and a normal one for these two individuals. It’s just the two of them.

It was the female who then ran towards him enthusiastically with amazing little grunts, rubbing the ground, inviting togetherness and rolling in the grass: this display of excitement on her part is not so ordinary for her.

They tumble in the grass in affectionate unity, yet also confirming his status as the dominant one.

Still photos showed more of the same:

As the evening continued, the male left her side to look around and mark. Just then a dog and owner appeared, and the male coyote hurried out of their way. But the dog then began barking at the coyote, causing the coyote to stand up straight and walk slowly towards the dog. I’m sure this was because of the female’s presence in the distance and its being breeding season. I asked the dog owner to please leash and walk on, which she did, and the incident was over. The male then moved back into the field next to the female, where they sat and watched, and waited for dusk to thicken before walking off together.

Walking off together in harmony

Four days later there was an about-face on her part: now she wanted to be left alone under no uncertain terms. The video below was taken by my friend Samantha right before I got to the park. In the video, the female grabs the male’s snout causing him to wince in pain: this type of snout-grab is used to impose one’s will on the other — it’s disciplinary. HIS normally dominant status had been trumped by her needs. Mating time is close at hand, and the male can hardly control his need to approach her, but she is not ready.

After I arrived, the male repeatedly attempted approaching the female, inching towards her very slowly, cautiously and gingerly, one tiny step at a time. But the minute he was within reach of her, she let him have it with a growl and lunging teeth. Later on, she began snarling at him if he even looked at her from further away, as seen below. After continual repetitions of this same behavior: his approaching and her repulsing him, she walked away with him still tailing her but at a respectable distance until they disappeared in the bushes.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dan De Vries
    Feb 23, 2019 @ 03:21:26

    Lordy, that all sounds like some human mating rituals I’ve seen in bars (and in schools and churches, as far as that goes).


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