The Move

Some coyote parents have pups in the same area year after year. Some move for a year — about a mile away, while still maintaining their home-base territory — and then return the next season. Some move far away to an entirely different territory for good — 5 miles away from their original long-term territory and remain here until a territorial battle drives them away. These are some of the situations I’ve documented. Every family is as different as is every human family.

And I’ve seen numerous instances where pups are moved at about two months of age within an urban territory to about 1/4th mile away. That’s what this posting is about.

Two pups in a den under a house on a construction site

Denning locations in the city are chosen mostly for their inaccessibility to dogs. Dogs are intruders that coyotes detest the most. I’ve seen dens built right along the freeway, beyond a fence keeping dogs and pedestrians out. The noise is incredible — the whooshing by of car wheels on the freeway and force of the wind against those vehicles, in addition to all the motor noise, is deafening. But coyotes prefer this over dogs.

Construction site

Human activity, no matter how noisy, as long as it isn’t intrusive, is also preferred over dogs. Multiple enormous tractors with huge clanky digger-arms and noisy motors, along with a lot of activity and movement of this equipment have not stopped coyotes from denning at construction sites. And it is here, in the middle of such a site, under a tiny cement building, Mom had her pups this year. Mom and her mate along with a yearling could be glimpsed coming and going among the hubbub, and it was obvious that Mom was in a lactating state. And then one day, a tiny head popped out into the open from under the building. For several days we thought there was only one pup, but then a second one appeared. When pups are first born, they stay put, but after 6-8 weeks, they need to start moving — and a construction site was not ideal for them at this stage. Mom knew she had to move them.

It’s not uncommon for mothers to move their pups at this stage — six to eight weeks of age. If you are aware of it, maybe that’s all you see. But by focusing in, I could see all the intelligence involved: planning, forethought, knowledge and work.

Mom must have been planning this for some time. Weeks before moving, every night, she would slither under the fence to the new area and work on digging places where her pups could duck into and hide if they needed to. She worked at this in the thick foliage among a tangles of branches which would be difficult for dogs to penetrate. Remember that a coyote is only 30 pounds and with the bendability of a cat, allowing them to slither under and over things. Not so for dogs. I didn’t capture the digging, just the coming and going each night at that new location.

The time had to be right, and that time would be when the pups began following her around — the same as little ducklings follow their mothers. I caught what I thought of as them “practicing” their following skills, or, possibly Mom “testing” to see how well pups would follow. They did!

Practicing following

On the day of the move, Mom led them to the construction site’s fence line. However, they might not follow in the street where there were too many new distractions. For the street part of the journey, she signaled one of the pups to remain quiet and stay put: it’s a signal all pups know. Meanwhile she picked up one of the pups by it’s back, and carried it out the gate and along the sidewalk, crossing a number of streets, and finally slithering under the hole of the fence to the new area. Within ten minutes of depositing that youngster, she headed back to get the other one, and returned with that one within 25 minutes.

Interesting is the time of day she did this. One might have expected her to make the move at night when no one was around. But she did not do that. One of the reasons may be that the fenced construction site could only be exited from the gates. She herself could slither under the gate, but only barely — it probably was not high enough for her carrying a pup. I had actually seen her walk at around noon a number of times, probably practicing and assessing what the situation was at that time of day. Shortly before noon every day, almost all dogs had already been walked, so few would be out to go after her, and traffic was at a low at that time of day. So, when Moving Day came, this is the time she chose: 11:45 for one pup and then 12:20 for the other.

One person saw her walk down the street carrying a pup, and a friend relayed this to me — I myself missed it, though I knew it was coming. But I had cameras set up at the hole under the fence at the new location, and that is what I have to show you, below.

Interestingly, this mother followed the exact same pattern two years ago, moving her pups on June 1st of 2021. This year it was on May 26th. Also of interest, only Mom moved the youngsters. She was not helped by Dad or her yearling daughter.

So, just imagine the planning and foresight involved: planning for contingencies on the street, planning her route, planning the time of day this would happen, planning that it would happen at all, preparing the new denning spot. I think you have to be pretty impressed with the capabilities of coyotes generally, but especially with the capabilities of coyote mothers!

Cases of Both Mothers AND Daughters Lactating

Threesome raising a den of pups: Mom, Dad & lactating Daughter

I have now seen four cases of both an alpha female mother AND one of her remaining daughters — always a two-year-old who has just come of reproductive age — both lactating on the same territory and in the same denning area. These four cases occurred in separate families and territories. The following names won’t mean anything to most people so I’m just putting them here to differentiate them for myself. 1) Tarn (alpha female), Pink (daughter) and Rookie (new alpha male) in 2022; 2) Chert (alpha female), Squirrel (daughter), and Rookie (new alpha male in 2021); 3) Scout (alpha female), Li’lGirl (daughter), and Skipper (new alpha male) in 2023; and 4) Ma’am (alpha female), unnamed daughter, and Blue (long-time alpha male) in 2021. 

I have been attributing these “double lactations” to two different pregnancies due to the sudden disappearance of the resident alpha male and the quick appearance of a new male who moved into the vacated alpha position. This made sense to me, based on what I’ve read, that “when the alphas are killed, disorganization leads to more litters and the population increases.” [Bob Crabtree]. Indeed, the long-time alpha males totally disappeared in the case of #1, #2, and #3 above, which fit Crabtree’s conditions, but this was not the case with #4. But then again, I was only seeing the #4 family from a distance, and rarely at that, so I figured I was simply missing something from the situation.

So the obvious explanation for me was some sort of polygamy or harem situation. However, this runs in the face of what I’ve seen before over the last 17 years, and it runs counter to what we’ve been told about coyotes: that coyotes are monogamous. And also, younger females are known to be *behaviorally sterile* unless there is a disruption by killing (or a death) — and there was no disruption of this sort in family #4. So everything wasn’t aligned between what I knew and what I was seeing.

AND THEN, I read about pseudopregnancy in dogs which is apparently common phenomenon in canines. I got my information online from a 2017 paper by Robert A. Foster: Female Reproductive System and Mammae”, published in “ScienceDirect”: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/pharmacology-toxicology-and-pharmaceutical-science/pseudopregnancy which is about domestic dogs, but I think it’s safe to assume that coyotes might exhibit the same phenomenon. For how the process works you’ll have to click on the article above, but the relevant information is this:

It has been hypothesized that this condition is an adaptive response to allow non-breeding females to help raise offspring of the breeding female.54 Associated physical and behavioral changes are very broad in scope, ranging from none all the way to the equivalent of pregnancy. Included can be nervousness, guarding an area, making a nest (66.1% of nonpregnant females), abdominal distention, mammary gland development with or without lactation (78.6%)

Through the 16 years that I’ve been observing, I’ve seen many yearlings help raise the young of their parents, but only within the last several years have I seen this “double lactating”. So, my question is, would these be double-pregnancies (and therefore polygamous situations), or are the yearling daughters just “helping to raise their mother’s new pups” by contributing to the milk supply, among other things?

Coyote reveals her lactating state to me.

My observations are all visual, and I never go close to densites, and so I wouldn’t be able to tell which of these two potential situations exists in these four cases: in all cases, the lactating daughter also swelled up in size — but as you have read above, this is a symptom of pseudopregnancy. However, based on case #4 where the long-term alpha remained and was not replaced, and based on what we know about coyotes being monogamous, I’m now leaning towards the belief that these daughters are simply helping their mothers. By the way, in the cases before 2023, all of the lactating two-year-olds dispersed when the season was over.

I’ve asked Dr. Benjamin Sacks at UC Davis if he can provide me with his knowledge of, or references to, these situations. AND, since we have the DNA from scats from some of these situations, we’ll be able to tell definitively what the situation is for that family — these are still being worked on. I’ll be following up with more once I find out more, but I wanted to go ahead and post this today, on Mother’s Day!

Our Coyotes: Live Talk at Fort Mason

I’ll be giving a presentation about coyotes at the Fort Mason Community Garden on Saturday, May 20th at 10 am. If you are interested, it will be a poster talk in lieu of a slides because projected slides would just be washed out in the midday light! There should be plenty of time for questions afterwards. The RSVP seems to be an informal request by the FMCG — so far, I see no place on their website to do so. I was told that most people don’t RSVP.

Denning Challenges and Choices. And Good Moms. By Walkaboutlou

Hi Janet, 

I wanted to share with you a student’s observations and leanings. Which lead to more questions. 

Kinky Tail continues to raise her very active litter. There are 7 now..so either there was a miscount originally or 2 have disappeared. They think 2 pups have disappeared because there is a local golden eagle who for years has been seen with coyote pups, fox kits and feral cats. It seasonally comes to this area during lambing and calving times. It has been seen daily flying over den areas.

That well may have encouraged Kinky to move pups as well as..ticks. Locally we’ve seen plague level numbers of ticks. And Kinkys grooming times with pups seemed very long last week. Her last den area was absolutely infested with 3 species of ticks. Ugh.

Now however, Kinky moved pups to a rendezvous of log piles, poison oak bushes, and grazing cattle. 

The student says she doesn’t believe the location was randomly picked. 

The abundance of poison oak keeps people out except rarely riders of horse or quads passing thru. Ranch folk.  

The grazed range grass is short and doesn’t hold high tick densities compared with long grasses or brush areas. 

And finally, having an entire cow to scavenge 2 miles away after move means less animals near pups (scavengers galore) and Kinky doesn’t have to hunt the longer grass fields for voles. Which mean tick pick up. She has the cow or many dozens of caches. Also discovered was she visits an orchard and gleans old fallen Apple’s from last Fall.

This Student feels Kinky’s choice of den was premeditated and thought carefully out. It has minimal tick numbers. Humans rarely come and pass quickly. It’s open with vast vistas and hillsides yet has hiding places for pups. The Longhorns don’t encourage canine visitors. It’s close to dead cow but far enough pups don’t meet scavengers.

She also is study wild turkey brood site selections and says the studies lend to each other. Wild Turkey Hens need to sit on eggs around 28 days. The picked site is obviously paramount. A poorly picked site is disastrous. There are hens that pick poorly or lose patience or dedication and leave eggs too long as well. Then there are hens that cover eggs while minimally foraging for bugs and food and rush back fast. How a Hen Broods means Everything. And not all hens are good moms. 

She says it’s same for Coyote. Some mothers are functional but rather minimal. Or make bad choices. Some..seem to be absolutely dedicated mothers. She feels most coyote are very dedicated Moms. 

So how much is choice and thought when picking a site to hide and raise your kids? She feels Kinky Tail is neighborhood cognizant. 

In her words “No wolf gang signs. No noisy dog parties. No bad nosy people. Riding thru people that she’s known since pup and plenty of longhorns and poison oak seem the latest mood and pic”

Kinky is doing well. She has 7 very active very fat pups. She’s busy busy busy. By day she stays at den. At night it’s cow scavenging, cow caches and long long drinks. And some nights old apples. She grooms her pups even as she comes home bedraggled. Growls briefly but playfully at Mate as he leaves for day shift. 

Real Estate Realities are working out for Kinky. 

Lou

Old Habits, by Walkaboutlou

Hi Janet.

Kinky Tail moved her litter again and it reminded us of her Father’s moves and habits. 

Her father in times of vulnerability and old age sought the company of a captive herd of bison. He not only found the stirred up voles easy meals..the bison seemed to keep canines away. 

Kinky Tail’s observers feel she’s nervous more so with pups starting to dodder about. She moved them to a hilly area with cut wood piles…and smack dab in Longhorn pastures. These are range cattle held temporarily as they calve or get checked on. They aren’t afraid of wolves, bear, cougar…arent really fans of dogs but pretty much ignore coyote. 

With such neighbors she can still easily go and scavenge her dead cow as live ones provide horned deterrents to any predators or dogs that pass close to her pup dens. 

It could be coincidence. But it sure seems like her father’s moves. His last few vulnerable months were always with Bison. 

2nd pic…white bull….pile of logs is one of the puppy dens. 

Horns work!

Lou 

Kinky and her Mate can move here and cattle won’t even look up. If a dog or wolf trotted thru, different story. 

Scout: Moving On, An Update

Scout is eight years old now and just had her fourth litter.

Recently, I’ve had only short glimpses of Scout, but that’s been enough to update me about some of her changes. She’s 8 years old now and at times looks worn: her scar-studded face (which is not all that apparent until you look closely), her about-to-be-shed old winter coat, and her slow pace at the time may have influenced how I saw her: maybe she was just having some “tired-fur-days”. She’s usually alone, trekking through one of her territory’s main hubs of which she had two. Notice I used the word “had”.

This is a good time to bring her story up to date. If you don’t know Scout or haven’t read her saga, you might want to. It’s the stuff movies and books are made of. In fact, her story has been recounted in a documentary, and is coming out as part of a book, not by me, but by someone who has interviewed me — I’ll write more about it when that comes out. The last time I updated her story was on December 21st.

From rotund on the left, to lactating on the right within the first week of April.

What’s new? Scout has just had her fourth litter. Of course, I haven’t seen any pups, and won’t for months, but I saw her balloon up in size over the last several weeks in March, and then in early April deflate in size and show signs that she’s lactating.

Scooter, her mate from the previous three years and father to her previous three litters, is no longer around — I have no idea what happened to him. He just stopped appearing — I last saw him on January 17th. The most likely scenario is that he met his end in a car accident. A car killed one of his pups only a few months earlier on a high-speed, busy roadway not far from last year’s den. In 2021, San Francisco picked up 24 coyotes killed by cars in the city. Although I’ve seen a couple of coyote “divorces”, these are extremely rare, so I don’t think he just left Scout or vice-versa — this was a very openly devoted pair of coyotes.

With Scooter gone, Scout has retreated to within the boundaries of her old territory. Last year, with him, her territory had expanded into a vast area that was new to her. She didn’t give up her old territory, rather, she retained both! A yearling daughter remained at the old place, and since both Scout and Scooter returned there nightly, there were plenty of scent markings to deter any potential takeovers by other coyotes seeking their own territories there. It became my belief that Scooter may have originally come from that new territorial extension and possibly even led Scout there. But as I said, he is no longer in the picture and Scout no longer returns to that area anymore. This is why I think her lost mate and the extended territory they held were connected somehow: she has moved on from both.

I last saw Scooter on left on January 17th; Skipper, Scout’s new mate on the right, appeared at the beginning of March

By March 2nd of this year, there was a new male in her life and I’ve seen Scout with him enough times to know this is her new mate. The question is, who fathered her pups this year? There are six weeks in there where I only ever saw Scout, and never with either of these males. Without knowing which one was with her 63 days before giving birth (the beginning of February), we won’t know who the father is. I am no longer collecting scat for DNA identification, so this will never be known, unless the pups somehow bear a strong resemblance to either male. Some family resemblances are uncanny and this might give it away, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Here are a few seconds showing Scout happily greeting her new mate after the birth of her pups. She seems to be saying, “I did it!”

I occasionally see her two-year-old daughter, see: Strictly Monogamous?. Scout’s one surviving offspring from last year’s litter, a male, can sometimes be seen in that abandoned new territory where he was born.

Over the years as she has aged, Scout has become more and more circumspect. I believe this has to do with aging: as coyotes get older, they are less willing to take chances — I’ve noticed that the same happens to injured animals. It’s probably a self-protective measure.

At the same time, reports have again begun about “aggressive” coyotes in the vicinity: these reports come out regularly during every pupping season. Specifically, it was reported on Facebook that a leashed dog pulled away from its owner and was chased all the way home by an “aggressive” coyote. First, any dog that’s not attached to a person will be targeted to “leave” the area by coyotes. They aren’t interested in engaging or mauling, their intent is to drive these “pests” — because dogs indeed are pests in a coyote’s eyes — out of the area. Even leashed dogs could be approached by an alpha (parent) coyote for this purpose: it’s best to just keep walking away from the coyote, showing that you aren’t interested in a territorial conflict, and that you are abiding by its wishes to move away. This coyote behavior is more correctly a “protective” behavior and is displayed within about 1/4th mile of any den site by all coyote parents.  You can eliminate scary situations by keeping away and then walking away from a coyote the minute you see one. 

Your best option might be to try a different route for awhile. If this is not possible, keep your eye open for any coyotes and walk away from them the minute you see one, especially if you have a dog which should always be leashed in a known coyote area. If you have a little dog, pick it up as you leave. If you haven’t kept vigilant and a coyote comes into your personal space, you’ll have to try scaring it away — but know that prevention is much easier than dealing with an angry coyote up close.

You can see an enlargement of this poster by clicking here.

Dispersal Maneuvers

Dispersing youngster.

Yesterday at dusk, I saw a dispersing youngster wandering through a neighborhood. He was not fast-to-flee, but rather carefully deliberate and much more aware of his surroundings than he let on. He kept out of the way and to the edges when the couple of people or cars were around, otherwise he used the street. He found a baggie and attempted “milking” it for what it was worth. It looked empty, but it must have retained odors from its previous contents because the coyote was interested in it. As I observed, I became aware of the coyote’s right hind foot: it was compromised, which you could see only from certain angles. Coyote legs in particular are thin and subject to injury — I’ve seen such injuries mainly from being chased by dogs. This guy soon headed to the bushes and I didn’t see him again. That’s about par for me for observing a dispersing coyote: I only ever see them fleetingly. This is because they are not in their own territories, but just passing through what might be another coyote’s claimed territory — in other words, trespassing.

If you look carefully, you can see his injured hind right leg in these photos. This did not appear to impede his movements, so the injury probably happened long ago.

Dispersal here in San Francisco seems to take place mostly during a youngster’s second year of life, although I’ve seen it as early as 9 months of age, and as late as 3 years of age. It takes place at any time of the year: there’s no actual “dispersal season”. The new pupping season has begun, with new pups having just been born — this is one of the times when some yearlings, due to big changes in the family, may decide to, or be prompted to, move on.

Coyote population is like a breathing bellows, expanding during the pupping season, and then shrinking back down after dispersal to the alpha pair, with possibly a couple of yearlings lingering a little longer before moving on. The yearlings who remain at home — and these can be either male or female — it’s not limited to just the females — serve as a great help in raising a new litter and in defending the territory, and they themselves eventually move on.

What are the features of dispersal — how is it achieved? I’ve seen parents drive youngsters out, I’ve also seen youngsters just pick up and leave when they are ready without cause, and I’ve seen siblings driving siblings out. Interestingly, opposing this process, I’ve seen parental feeding keep youngsters around well into their second year.

When a parent instigates the dispersal process, it appears to me to be driven by reproductive jealousy, as well as, sometimes by a crack in the hierarchical order. For this purpose, parents use silent intimidation (such as intense and prolonged intense staring) or physical intimidation (body slams, punches, bites) as well as hierarchy demands. Hierarchy is strong right from when the pups are born, with pups learning to lay low and hit the ground submissively at meetings with the parents. Sometimes I’ve even seen youngsters appear to shrink into themselves to look smaller when greeting parents, possibly in hopes of looking younger and thereby sticking around longer? It is mothers, or alpha females, who mostly intimidate their female youngsters — especially those who show an interest in Dad, and alpha males appear to intimidate and drive out the younger males, particularly if they show an interest in Mom. I saw the process begin with a youngster at 7 months of age in one family.

A form of sibling rivalry seems to include who is able to be next to a parent — it’s almost a kind of jealousy. I wonder if regular proximity might influence a parent’s decision to allow a certain youngster to stay on a little longer. Certainly that individual would have a survival advantage over a sibling who left — that’s one of the survival perks of having a territory to stay on. I just read in Wikipedia about starlings kicking their siblings out of the nest to insure they get all the parental attention and therefore a better chance at survival and reproductive survival — their rivalry goes as far as siblicide. Getting a sibling out of the way, out of the picture, seems involved sometimes with coyotes. Interestingly, Wikipedia even uses human step-siblings as examples of a siblings’ need to displace other siblings for their own advantage: did you know that murders in this group are higher than between other groups? This is how intense these rivalrous sibling feelings can be.

I’ve noticed that youngster males are allowed to remain in a family much longer when a Dad isn’t around — say, he died and another alpha male didn’t take his place — or when dad has become enfeebled by old age and may need the youngster to help defend the turf. I’ve seen such a male then move up into the alpha position — yep — becoming his mother’s mate.

It’s after leaving home that dispersal becomes dangerous for urban coyotes. This is due to cars — cars are their chief killers in cities, due to hostile territory-owning coyotes who drive them away, and due to unfamiliarity with new terrain. They appear to search for new homes mostly at night, when it’s safest for themselves.

BTW, a couple of times, I’ve seen a dispersing, “foreign” injured yearling youngster accepted as a visitor by an alpha female in another territory: it’s really altruistic behavior. I don’t know how common this is. More often, I’ve seen dispersing youngsters being repulsed by territorial owners.

Here are some dispersal directions and final destination I’ve been able to track in San Francisco (center photo — clicking on it will enlarge it for you):

To the left: rivalrous siblings duke it out. Center: some dispersals that occurred within the city (most youngsters move south and out of the city); Right: dispersal is a dangerous time for coyotes — cars are their chief killers.

During dispersal, a brave and strong yearling could end up fighting for a territory within the city where they detect weak or aging alphas — this happened in the Presidio in 2019. Or, a lucky coyote just might find a vacated niche here in the city — this happened at Bernal Hill in 2016. A youngster may wait it out on the periphery of a territory having assessessed one of the alphas to be weak, and then move in when the opening occurs: this happened in the Presidio only a couple of years ago. However, most dispersing youngsters seem to move south and out of the city because all territories within the city are already taken (per Presidio study).

In this video, a mother coyote wallops her yearling daughter to either disperse her or to instill fear in her so she won’t reproduce. Notice Mom is being aided by her son, her daughter’s younger brother, who appears to be simply copy-cating his mother’s mean behavior. In this particular instance, daughter was regularly cozying up to dad. This particular situation ended up with the parents leaving the territory to their daughter because she would not leave.

These next two dispersal maps come from the Presidio (©Presidio). The first map to the left details one coyote’s months of criss-crossings in search of a territory, even out of the city and back, and, the next map (in the center, below) shows her journey’s end in the Presidio: note there is no more wandering, she found her niche and sticks to it and keeps other coyotes out. Of 15 coyotes tagged and collared in the Presidio over a three year span, all apparently were killed by cars except one. In addition, the radio-collars and tags themselves created problems. Here (below right) is a deformed ear due to an infection caused by an ear tag, and her collar was supposed to fall off after one year for humane reasons, however, it malfunctioned and she has been burdened with it for 6 years and will be stuck with it probably now for the rest of her life. I’m not a fan of these gadgets, but the maps are fascinating.

The two maps to the left are from the ecologist at the Presidio©, based on recordings from a tagged and radio-collared coyote. To the right is what these gadgets look like: The ear-tag became infected and caused the ear to permanently flop; and the radio-collar itself was supposed to self-release after a year, for humane purposes, but it malfunctioned, so she’s been stuck with the collar for the past 6 years.

Family Communication Howls

This five minute video is of a family interacting vocally in the late afternoon. It’s actually two interactions within about an hour of each other, starting at about 6:30 p.m., with napping in-between.The wind noise during the first minute and a half is really off-putting and painful to listen to. You can turn the volume down during this section or jump ahead. I wish I knew how to take out the wind — I’m sure there’s a way.

The video starts out with Mom calling out to her family — no sirens were involved. At :40 seconds into the video [the numbers below refer to the progression of the video], the rest of the family responds, and Mom then intensifies her own calls as she replies to them — you can see and hear this uptic in sound. At 1:15, satisfied with their responses, she heads off to another location nearby but does not join them. Some people have speculated that this type howling is a “roll-call”, but it isn’t, since repeatedly I have seen some family members absolutely ignore the sounds and continue with what they were doing.

By 1:23 the rest of the family is sleeping on a hillside without Mom. If you didn’t know they were there, you would not have seen them — they pretty much blended into the hillside and looked like part of the landscape. Dad looks up briefly at 1:53. Of course, I didn’t stick around to video them sleeping (!) but the minute I heard them again, I returned.

By 2:05 the family is howling again, this time in response to sirens. If you listen carefully you can hear that each coyote sounds different, and you can hear Mom’s deeper voice in the background. Howling is often set off by sirens, but just as often it’s initiated without them. Possibly they are simply confirming their family unity and their family separateness from any neighboring coyote families. If sirens occur late in the afternoon, as in this case, the coyotes may use it as their signal to meet up at the rendezvous — a nightly event — which begins their activity together through the evening. Coyotes sleep mostly during the daylight hours in urban settings as an adaptation to avoid people, even though they are not at all nocturnal. They are as diurnal as we are.

By about 4:07 the howling has stopped. They interact minimally, and then they head off to meet Mom for their rendezvous.

At 4:36 you may have to turn the volume up to hear their squeaky voices during their meeting: this part is hidden from view because they are deep in the bushes.

Within a few minutes of hearing these high-pitched voices from the bushes — it was dusk by this time and difficult to see them — I saw three of them headed out together with purpose and direction to their steps — they were on their way to patrol and hunt and mark their territory in order to keep non-family coyotes out. One of the youngsters, the female, seems never to come with them during these treks. I’ve seen this stay-home behavior in a number of younger females. I don’t know if they remain home due to not feeling secure away from home, or if there is some other reason.

Hmmm. . . Strictly Monogamous?

Well, these three coyotes were not just “frolicking and playing” as some people thought! By the way, coyotes are known to mate for life, mates are usually extremely loyal to one another, and both parents raise the young: it usually is a real “family unit” in the sense that our families are. But, as in our families, variations and exceptions take many forms.

Mom was there with her two-year-old Daughter, along with a new-to-the-area four-year-old Male. Dad (Mom’s long-time mate) had disappeared two months ago, so there was no male scent-marking in the area which might have warned off this male. Mom appeared not to like new Male and kept snarling at him. Daughter I think was conflicted: she joined her Mom in some of the snarling, at the same time, from all appearances, she appeared to love this new focused attention from the visitor: she had his undivided attention and she probably never felt so special before! She let him lick her under the tail and allowed, and even encouraged, him to mount her.

The visiting Male already had a mate on the adjacent territory where he had pups last year. That mate happened to be his mother. Inbreeding is not uncommon for coyotes, and I’ve seen a lot of it here in San Francisco. In spite of Male’s stable family situation and claim to a prime territory in the city, here he was romancing Daughter in the next territory over. It occurred to me that maybe his mother’s/mate’s hormones and reproductive odors might be waning with age (she’s ten) and therefore possibly less attractive to him? I don’t know this, it’s just something that occurred to me without knowing the science.

And the story is actually more convoluted than that: Unbeknownst to either Mom or new Male (at least I think it’s unknown to them): Male and Mom are actually full siblings born in what is now the Male’s territory. They were born in two different litters, four years apart. Daughter then would be Male’s niece. [Captions appear below each set of photos]

Oh, so you’re interested in my daughter?” [Mom and Daughter face visiting Male]

Mom seems to be saying: “Well, you don’t pass mustard: I don’t like you. Get OUT!” [But we all know that parents have little say in these matters]. Mom is snarling at and chasing Male.

Above, Mom is interacting with and communicating with Daughter. Mom seems to be warning Daughter that he’s just a scoundrel — I got the impression that Mom wanted Daughter to join her in chasing the fellow out. But Daughter didn’t seem to be on board.

Daughter becomes giddy with excitement — this type of attention was all new to her. It happens to us all, doesn’t it? Something new and probably inexplicable was happening to her and it was energizing her with excitement. It looked like she was having her first coming-of-age experience. She’s two years old and just about ready for this.

Well, this is what happened, in spite of Mom. However, there was no “tie”, so mating didn’t actually take place — but they did go through the motions: He mounted her half a dozen times. At this point, four weeks later, it appears that they ran off together — they “eloped”. I haven’t seen either of them for a month now, either here or on his territory. Hopefully there will be another installment of this soap opera! I want to add, that Male’s abandoned mate called to him repeatedly, with no response. She now doesn’t not have a mate around to help her defend her territory.

Body “Twirls”

Well, this isn’t quite a hip slam or body blow, but it’s a variation on the theme. Here, it would more appropriately be called a “body twirl”: the move is the same move as a body slam or body blow, but without making contact. The movement involves a coyote planting her front paws on the ground as a kind of pivot and then heaving or throwing her body around that pivot, energetically. In most cases, contact would have been made, but this case there was just a change in the direction she’s facing.

All behavior has to be read in context to understand its meaning or purpose. If this movement had been accompanied with body contact, and depending on the intensity of that contact and what was going on before and after the twirl, it could have a totally different meaning.

What you see in these photos is a young female using the move in front of a newly arrived male — an apparent suitor. So here her movements are playful and flirty: she’s trying to impress him with how cute she is. She doesn’t touch him. She allows her back side to come right up to him. It’s not only her “safe side” — no teeth are present — but in this case, it’s a very enticing move since it’s mating season. During my observation, she was very excited to see him. Then, after she calmed down, she back up to him several times, pushing her tail over to the side, whereupon he sniffed and licked her, and then mounted her, but for just a moment. There was no actual mating. Actual mating always includes a “tie” which keeps them bound together for several moments: this didn’t happen.

Interestingly, this particular visiting male already has a mate and family. Whoa! Was he drawn to this adjacent territory by the female’s hormone odors, revealing that she “she was ready”? If a male had been present on her territory he would have been leaving his scent markings on that territory, and the male visitor would not have entered the area, but there was no resident male. Her mother and father used to visit regularly until the father disappeared, so “he”Dad” was no longer around to “mark” and therefore “claim” the area. By the way, the visitor male seems to have returned to his own family and territory. The lesson to be learned: Yikes, coyotes play around!!

By the way, the body-slam or hip-blow, where body impact does occur, are part and parcel of highly physical and rough play style.

Again, depending on the purpose which can usually be read in context, these physical blows can be used to taunt and tease, as in this video below:

Yearling Taunts Older Sister As He Practices Body Blows.

An Intruder Elicits Reactions: revealed in a field camera

The most interesting thing about this video is the vocalizations which appear at 1:45 as the family heads out. They are in a hurry and have purpose: I’m certain they are after the Intruder, based on all the rest of their behavior in this video. There are also high-pitched squeaky vocalizations at the end of the video clip. Otherwise, the rest of the video is silent.

The cast consists of Dad, Mom and two youngsters, in addition to a mature Intruder. The scene opens with Dad kicking dirt angrily and urinating: he does not like what he finds out which is that an intruder — one he’s known about for the last little while — has been by. At about :28 his mate joins. She enters their fence hole at :32 followed by him after he angrily kicks dirt again.

One of their youngsters is with them: he does not go through the hole in the fence, but follows the fenceline a short distance and then returns and slithers through the hole at :59.

At 1:03 Dad is back scratching at the earth and then slithers through the hole again; Youngster then appears and seems perplexed at what he’s smelling — he seems to stand back and think about it before passing through the fence hole at 1:41 and a second youngster slithers through at 1:53.

At 1:45 are the vocalizations. They have been vocally quiet until now, but at 1:45 either Mom or Dad vocalizes loudly — it sounds like a bugle-like call to action — as all four head out together quickly and purposefully.

At 2:00 a youngster returns and sniffs the area intently again before passing through the hole at 2:34. At 2:40 the same coyote is back sniffing and passes thru the fence hole again at 2:55.

At the 2:58 mark, Mom returns to look around and then passes thru the hole at 3:13. That’s then Dad going thru at the 3:21 mark. Youngster follows at 3:36 and then another youngster at 3:37, followed almost immediately by second Youngster at 3:38.

The reactive actions occurred all during a six and a half hour window of time at night; by the next evening no family members were sniffing for the intruder’s presence.

At 3:44, the Intruder sits in front of the camera in daylight and you can get a very clear picture of who he is. He is not part of the family, but has been hanging around the periphery of the this territory.

At 4:23 there is a fast chase several hundred feet from the previous scenes. The camera was not fast enough to catch the first guy which would have been the intruder, and then the two alpha parents (Mom and Dad) going after him. At 4:49 they return making very high pitched squeaking noises, and then at 4:41 they seem to celebrate their success with body and muzzle rubs and wagging tails as they rejoin a youngster who did not accompany them on the chase..

Anxiously Awaiting: a family’s cursory rendezvous

Each rendezvous is different in the details, though the purpose remains the same: a family coming together before their family trekking activities at dusk. I’m posting this to show how different these get-togethers can be. My previous rendezvous posting (a different family) included Mom and Dad and two 9 month old pups and two youngsters didn’t show up: from Dad there was discipline, growling, baring of teeth, hierarchy demands. Mom wanted to be left alone. Breeding season being right around the bend probably had something to do with their behavior. That family lingered around for about half an hour before taking off, but not this one.

Mom appeared suddenly and was all business: she was searching for family members.

This one began with Mom suddenly showing up alone in the waning daylight hours. She was edgy and highly alert and purposeful, looking around searchingly for the appearance of other family members, all the while keeping her eyes on the waning activity of people and dogs. At first she walked around a very small area, above, then, below, she stood in one spot where she eventually lay down, turning her head continually from side to side searchingly.

After a few minutes of walking around, she posted herself in one spot and kept looking around, then she stretched, continuing to look around, but now from a laying down position.

After she departed for her another walkaround (below) — waiting and waiting, searching and searching — a yearling abruptly appeared on the hill without me having seen where he came from. Mom immediately returned to where he was and approached him with a quick greeting: nose touches and there was warmth: no snarling at the youngsters as you saw in the previous posting. Then again, this yearling is a full year older than the pups in my last posting.

She got up to search further than what from where she had perched herself, stretching and then returning to her post.

More than any other coyote I’ve ever seen, this alpha mom appears to feel responsible for the safety of all her family members — she exudes this, even years ago, before she had her first family, when she acquired her very first companion after being a loner for four years: Anxious and Concerned for HIS Safety. Maybe all coyotes feel this way, but this coyote puts it on full display.

This time, when she returned to her post, a yearling son was there who she warmly greeted. He must have been one of the individuals she had been looking for and awaiting. Mom is the smaller and wiser coyote on the right.

Mom continued in her anxious state: again she hurried away a few feet, apparently looking for another family member and the yearling followed part way. Suddenly I could see Mom relax — she must of spotted whoever else she had been looking for. I caught only a short focused video (below) (between long stretches when the camera wouldn’t autofocus because of lack of light), of the two of them trotting happily up a hill, wiggling, rubbing against each other and the pup reaching for her and almost embracing her.

The three of them were ready to go, and they headed off together, the same as the other family had. Once out of view, within a few minutes, from behind the bushes, they began a howling session: it was a cacophony of vocalizations which sounded like many more than probably the 5 that were there — it sounded as though the rest of the family, two others: a pup and Dad, had joined them, even though they had never come into view for me. What stood out here was Mom’s anxious awaiting: once the two yearlings appeared in rapid succession, the family was off, joined, it sounded like, by two other family members. I recorded the howling, but the wind absolutely messed it up, so I’m not going to post it.

ASIDE: A happy rendezvous does not necessarily signify that all is running smoothly. Ups and downs come and go. Over the last week or so, a friend reported that there have been intense fighting noises going on at 5 am — repeatedly in this area. What might this mean? It could be two brothers going at it. It could be Dad working to disperse the male yearlings. And then again, it could be a non-family, territorial battle between this family and the coyote family which used to occupy the area but has been moved over: both families hurry through borderline sections of their distinct territories, and they may be establishing more definite boundaries.

Rendezvous, Mid-January

The Rendezvous is a recurring nightly coming-together of coyote family members. It usually happens at about dusk, right before taking off together or separately on their treks to mark their territories and hunt and otherwise be together. It’s a highly social event with interactions occurring between each individual: there are greetings following rank protocols, and there’s usually play and teasing between the different individuals.

These rendezvous are always interesting to me — great for learning about individual and family dynamics. Each rendezvous is different, with different seasons revealing different priorities and seasonal stages. Their individual personalities pop open when they’re together, as well as their stages of development — things you don’t always see when you see individuals alone, or see them only very occasionally, or without knowing who each individual is, including teasing, affection, disciplinary level, etc. Because they aren’t just hurrying away or hunting, certain things become more obvious: statuses, injuries, courting behavior, changes in relationships such as burgeoning rivalry between brothers, who is missing (because of death or dispersal). If dogs interfere, then their reaction comes into view.

Rendezvous usually occur at dusk, so the waning light makes observing, and even more so, “capturing” the observation, more difficult. Towards the end of this session, I was literally guessing where the coyotes were as my camera captured the blackness, which I was then able to edit into readable, even if extremely substandard images. So here are a few sequences that had meaning for me. I’m sure there was a lot I missed in-between these, but these will give you an idea of how full those get-togethers are. I believe you all can see more through still images, rather than a video where you might actually miss what is going on. But also, videos take up a lot of space and, for me, are harder to edit down. Nevertheless, I have included two short video sequences here and inserted them where they fit in chronologically.

1 & 2 pup cowers as dad approaches; 3 & 4 pup reaches up to dad with snout and paw

This rendezvous, from when the first coyotes appeared, until they departed the area, lasted exactly half an hour. As I said, by the time it ended, I could not see anything clearly. It began with a youngster appearing and looking around. He soon cowered submissively asa snarly Dad approached him. After cowering acceptably to Dad’s satisfaction, the youngster — 9 months old at this point — still keeping himself low to the ground, stretched up his snout and then his paw in a submissively accepting gesture to Dad. But the status routine apparently wasn’t settled yet, because the youngster, see second group of photos below, attempted following Dad, and was repelled by Dad’s snarly glare — communication is very clear to every coyote. The youngster again cowered and went the other way. Within a few minutes after this, Dad was happy with the respect shown him, and allowed the youngster to relax close by (last of the 8 first photos).

5, 6 & 7 pup follows dad but is repulsed by dad’s expression; 8 finally the two relax proximately to each other [each galleries can be clicked for a larger view, and then scrolled through]

Most observers aren’t able to break apart these different interactions as they observe. More is going on here than mere greetings, statuses and interactions. It’s pre-mating season, so mating time is going to commence soon, if it hasn’t already.

Then, Mom arrives. Mom arrives and vocalizes, and the rest of the family joins in as she hurries over to them (video below)

Above video: Mom arrives and vocalizes, and the two other family members join in.

Above, 1) Mom arrives and begins howling. #2 Dad responds as does the one youngster there. #3 Mom hurries over to them and sniffs around. #4 Mom urinates. #5 Her urine is full of hormones at this time of year and Dad, you can see, is keenly interested in their levels. #6 Dad lets youngster know he’s in the way with a snarl: pup pulls his mouth back in a grimace and sits back to allow Dad plenty of room

#1) Second pup arrived on the scene and Dad gave him the same treatment his brother got. #2) Brother takes in that family interaction — they all can and do read minute nuances in each other’s interactions and know the meaning of it all. #3) Dad is heading the youngsters away from Mom who you see to the right. I don’t know what her intent here is, but you’ll see her later reaching out to say hello to this male pup of hers. #4 Mom heads away from them and eats grass: she’s nervous, while #5) Dad dozes nearby. At this point, #6 it’s the youngster who heads towards Mom, possibly indicating that he’s ready to get going.

Two other family youngsters were not present. One yearling may have dispersed, but the other youngster is probably still around. Not all family members are always present for these rendezvous. After the last photo above, all family members got up and interacted as you see here in the video below.

Video shows a few moments of the interactions: Dad wove himself between his mate and the youngsters — he didn’t want to give them the opportunity to become interested in her other than as a mom. Mating season is about to begin, so he has to keep this kind of order.

#1) Mom stretches and then leads the family pack out, but then she waits for them all to catch up and she #2) brings up the rear. #3) Note that her interest is first and foremost Dad: they touch noses as she reaches them, with the youngsters knowing to wait their turn. #4) Mom seems to be intent on saying hello to the youngster she was unable to greet earlier (because of Dad’s interference). The last two photos #5) and #6) show them four of them just before they disappeared, with Dad reaching out to touch one of the youngsters at the end there. I’ve included a small photo here showing how dark it actually was out there for these last images. Photo editing is amazing these days: that is the same unedited photo as #6 above.

Eluding: Coyote Behavior

Walking up 6 blocks in the middle of the street — few people saw her.

I was able to observe this three-time-mom coyote over a half-hour stretch of time as I concentrated on her eluding tactics. Coyotes really don’t want to be seen by humans; they are the opposite of “in your face” for the most part: reclusive and almost deferential. IF they feel they’ve been seen, they might tolerate it for a short while at a distance, but most will slither into the bushes rather than expose themselves to humans or dogs for too long. If they have to travel — say through the streets to get to where they need to go — they’ll take the safest and most direct route possible: notice in the first photo, she’s traveling right in the middle of the street — she did so for six blocks. There were no gaps between houses, so this was her safest route, and also, in the middle of the street she could see pretty far in all directions, giving her plenty of time and space to escape sudden potential danger. And actually, she was somewhat inconspicuous in that vast sea of concrete where I had to point her out for some people to even see her,

Skedaddling by as quickly as possible where people had their eyes on her.

Of course, some coyotes do hunt or relax with people around in the distance — it’s inevitable in an urban situation where almost all the coyotes have become used to seeing people. And if there are very few (or no) people around, a coyote is more likely to approach a dog to let that dog know that the territory is taken: coyotes don’t allow non-family coyote members into their territories, so it’s natural that they would feel the same way towards dogs. During pupping season coyotes become fiercely protective against dogs who could easily harm any pups. So their elusiveness is cast aside for this more important purpose.

In addition, coyotes have different individual personalities — not unlike humans — with some being born less fearful than others and some learning to tolerate human omnipresence at a closer range. Making generalization from these few would be incorrect because even these coyotes avoid us. Another factor: our parks used to have many more dense and impenetrable wild areas where coyotes could remain unseen, but these have been hugely cleared over the last 15 years.

What alters this general state of wariness and elusiveness is people offering them food.

She kept herself hidden in the foliage whenever possible.

Here are some photos of that 1/2 hour. She covered about a 1/2 mile distance in that time. For part of that distance she had purpose and direction to her gait; for the rest she was meandering more than anything else, assessing the minimal human and dog activity in the area. You’ll see that her elusiveness is a constant — it is built into a coyote’s behavior.

When she was visible, she was casual about it, seeming not to have a purpose or destination in her movements.

More out in the open: scratching herself nonchalantly, marking, observing but moving away from a dog intent on avoiding her.

There was only one dog walker out during my 1/2 hour timeframe. She kept a close eye on the leashed dog from the distance. The owner was aware of her and simply turned and walked away when he saw her. Yay! That’s the right thing to do, and exactly what she wanted. She, too, did the same thing: walked away from them.

This sequence above shows her relaxing by a tree until loud walkers approach. She can only hear them at first, but she keeps looking in their direction and around her, and as they come into view, she hugs herself around the tree and slithers invisibly into the shade of the grove where no one can see her.

In another instance, two loud and animated people (no dogs) were coming down the path where she was relaxing after ducking away from a couple of other walkers. Above are the shots of her avoiding their detection. She was really good at this! They never had any clue that she was practically underfoot, which is what the coyote wanted. I can see why coyotes are sometimes called Ghost Dogs

I want to point out that this particular coyote was fed relentlessly and mercilessly in her early years which trained her to hang around visibly, daily, at feeding spots for many years — it changed her nature. Fortunately, over time, and helped by the fact that she moved and became focused on her family, much of her wariness and evasiveness returned.

At one point during this observation period, she emerged from the bushes and sat down as she saw a car coming, making herself purposefully visible. I watched as she carefully approached the car when it stopped. Enough food has been tossed to her from cars so that she still sometimes waits expectantly for it. She was hoping, but the driver saw me with my camera aimed at his car and he moved on. Yay! Most people now know that feeding coyotes is highly frowned on — it’s actually illegal.

She did not evade the car — in fact, that’s when her visibility became purposeful.

Coyote elusiveness is what keeps many people from seeing them for anymore than a few minutes at a time. The increased sightings we’ve been reading about on NextDoor are usually not caused by the mating season, dispersal season, birthing, pupping, a purported increased population or anything else that you’ve heard. More sightings are more likely due simply to us humans. Over the last few years, especially since COVID, more people have been out in the parks where coyotes might be spotted. Social media spreads sightings like wildfire which causes people to think there are many more coyotes than there actually are. More people are using night security cameras because of higher crime in the city which reveal their presence. San Franciscans have more dogs than ever — dogs often bring coyotes out into the open — coyotes react to dogs — with resultant increased sightings and encounters.

After 1/2 hour she wandered off and I had to go.

What can you do to prevent negative encounters? Do pretty much what the fella with the dog did in this posting: the minute you see a coyote, walk away from it, and keep your dog from engaging on any level, visually, or allowing antagonistic barking which could cause a coyote to react. Every coyote is different, personality-wise, so it’s best just to get away from them always.

Alpha Mom’s Return Visit

The alpha-pair of one of the families I follow extended their old territory last year. Not just did they extend it, they moved predominantly to that extension’s edge where their next litter was born (April, 2022) and this is where they spend the bulk of their time now. Yet, they maintain a foothold in their old territorial hub, trekking the mile distance regularly at night, but less often than they did a year ago when they first moved. At that time the treks back and forth were nightly, whereas now they are weekly or less.

When they moved the hub of their location and activity, they took with them just one of the youngsters born in 2021 — at that time, he was not yet a yearling. I don’t know if he or his parents made the choice to have him move with them. Neither do I know why the rest of his siblings remained behind — whether it was the choice of the individual youngsters or of their parents. But several of those pups remained behind. Over the course of the year, dispersal and death has taken all of them except one — the little girl. In November, friends found part of an old coyote skeleton and skin — the animal must have perished several months before that because the bones were clean of flesh, falling apart, and full of dirt. Those bones hold the secret to a story we can’t tell. Most wildlife holds these secrets: I’ve been able to barely scratch the surface with my observations, but there’s a wealth more that none of us will ever know about [Photo: Liz Rumsey].

I should point out that most of the territories I’ve studied — in fact, all except one — have retained fairly stable boundaries, so this situation stands out in my experience (16 years worth) as rather unusual. I’m thinking that this seems to be less of a quintessential “fragmented territory” than two separate territories claimed, for the moment, by the same alpha pair — if that’s possible.

There’s a mile-length of residential neighborhoods — houses on 25 x 100-foot lots — and even a freeway, separating what constituted their previous territorial hub and this present one. The old hub was used exclusively for 6 years and is where these alphas had their first two litters. At that earlier time, there was another entirely separate family occupying what is now our family’s “extended” territory.

That separate family is still around, but further south. The two families don’t appear to cross the “line” that separates them, and there’s even a sort of buffer zone which both respect.The alpha male of THAT family is getting up in years, and his mate is very small and young-looking — I’m wondering if these might have been factors involved in the “takeover”? I was not able to capture the process by which the change occurred: Had there been a fight for it? Or did it involve a gradual and accepted “pushing of the envelope” — i.e., pushing the other family over. Or a withdrawal by one family and simple filling-the-void by our family? OR, might our alpha male be an offspring of that family (I’m waiting for the DNA to confirm this or not) and been allowed to take it over by having it “ceded” to him willingly and amicably? I’ve seen this situation happen before. There are lots of questions which aren’t answered and might never be.

Above: Before dawn, I spotted the alpha pair headed towards their old hub.

A few days ago I was able to observe the alpha female’s activities upon one of her regular returns to her old hub. Initially I spotted her with her mate, the alpha-pair together, as they traversed that old haunt of theirs, but the male, who is much more wary and shy than she is, soon disappeared from view and that was the last I saw of him during this observation. The female remained visible and her trajectory was easy for me to follow. She was there to scrutinize the area: to find out what had been going on.

Sniffing (above 5 images): every inch of this swath of her territory was examined thoroughly for what the smells would reveal.

Visuals of course are important. But most of her “sizing-up” was done through her nose. She must have been figuring out WHO had been there and WHAT they were there for? WHAT were their tell-tale characteristics: such as male, female, age, testosterone level, etc. The “who” refers to coyotes and dogs.

Marking (above 4 images). Note the first oblong photo in this series: she’s both marking AND sniffing at the same time!

These are some of the photos I took. Alpha-mom thoroughly examined an entire swath of the area, keeping her nose to the ground while she was processing all the data she sniffed in. She frequently marked, as if she were “responding” to the information she was absorbing. In the 75 minutes I was able to observe her, she spent most of that time criss-crossing a 100-square-foot swath of field, marking and sizing up whatever had transpired there before she arrived. I don’t know how long back she’s able to whiff information, but I assume several days worth if not longer.

She found the food she had apparently buried here on a previous occasion — I saw her dig it up and wolf it down — no hunting was involved (above 3 images).

At one point she began digging. It was obviously a place where she had buried some prey — cached it away for a rainy day — because she was able to unbury it and eat it up without a hunt. After spending several minutes filling up, she marked the area several times before continuing her zig-zagging investigation. Shortly after that she disappeared around a bend, but I quickly found her again: she had met up with her yearling daughter and I caught them eating a chicken-pot-pie someone must have just left for them, because it was not there earlier: I could see that mom ceded the treasure to the youngster.

I lost alpha mom for a few minutes, only to spot her through the bushes, next to her daughter with a chicken pot pie, which daughter was allowed to have.

Then she explored further afield than the 100 square foot swath which had preoccupied her initially.

Yearling daughter appeared a couple of times during this observation.

As an aside I want to mention that the presence of an alpha-pair and their continual markings keeps intruders out of a family owned territory. Without the continual marking — such as when either of the alpha’s is absent — the potential for intrusion by another coyote becomes likely. I wonder how long this family will be able to hold onto this area since they aren’t there all the time? Interestingly, this morning I saw the alpha male from the next territory over cruising the peripheral edges of this, his neighbor’s now less-used area. Was this just a reconnaissance trek with no other purpose than just that, or might he be harboring incipient plans to expand into the minimally marked area? So, although I’ve seen a lot of stability in most territories, fluidity is opened by absence of either of the territorial alphas. I’ll keep my eye open for this fella’s potential expansion into that area. This fella, below, by the way, is the full brother of the alpha mom I’ve been describing in this post: he never knew her, being born four years after her, but I wonder if they know, through scent, that they are siblings, or at least related on some level.

Full-brother, four years her junior, is the alpha male on the next territory over. I saw him encroach on what was the old hub of the coyote pair that moved. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: