Four Years Later, by Charles Wood

Protector 1

About four years ago the pair of coyotes I watched for several years were supplanted by their daughter Mary when she pledged herself to an older scallywag male coyote that I named Rufous. The new couple kept different hours than the ousted Mom and Dad coyote I had been watching. Recently I saw coyotes in the same place as before. Now I am trying to get their story.

Protector 2

I suspect that the two coyotes pictured together are mother and child. I assume the mother is the one looking into the camera and I suspect she is the mother because she looks like she is showing, this being the time of year where she would be showing. The protector coyote is a male and there is no reason yet to be sure that he is the presumed mother’s mate as opposed to being her son. Likewise, the presumed mother’s stare reminds me of Mary’s, but I can’t yet be sure that it is her.

Protected

I wish Rufous would have showed up to do the protecting. But I haven’t seen him. Had he shown up I would have recognized him because he is a big handsome fellow and four years ago he looked like he had a blind left eye.

Protector 3

It may be wishful thinking on my part, but the protector coyote has a reddish coloring and Rufous was a markedly reddish coyote. I know there is a fourth coyote among these three, and there may be more than four. Also, the protector coyote has eyes that remind me of Mom coyote from 4 years ago. The showing female has a harsh stare. The protector coyote, like Mom, has something tentative in his expression. Yet despite Mom’s shyness, like today’s protector male, both get the job done in good form. The job is to make their claim to the territory known and to nudge Holtz and me away. We did leave, very slowly because Holtz is now about 15 and wobbles when he walks.

Posting written by Charles Wood. Visit Charles Wood’s website for more coyote photos from LA: Charles Wood. His work is copyrighted and may only be used with his explicit permission.

Bites Off A Twig That’s In The Way

This branch is definitely in the way so it'll have to go.

This branch is definitely in the way so it’ll have to go.




Let's try from this angle? It didn't help, the coyote ends up leaving empty mouthed. :((

Let’s try from this angle? It didn’t help, the coyote ends up leaving empty mouthed. :((

These Small Dogs and Coyote Are Respectful of Each Other

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These two small Yorkies — one weighing a mere 7 pounds and the other 18 pounds even though they are full siblings — are used to this visitor. These dogs bark regularly at this coyote when they see it while they are out walking on their leashes. The coyote understands the barking and keeps a respectful distance away. In their own yard, too, on several occasions, as seen in this photo, they have barked viciously at the visitor to proclaim ownership of their turf, and the coyote, again, always gets the message by not getting too close as the owner, in this case, shoots the photo and swoops in to grabs her two tiny dogs to take them indoors.

Owner Rachel never lets these two roam free and always supervises them out-of-doors. About a year ago the coyote showed up and replaced the raccoons who used to come around. What attracts the coyote to her yard? Possibly the pond, but maybe not — the water level is really low and the coyote could not reach it. In the Spring, there are persimmons in the yard, but not now.

Most of the residents in this area are perfectly happy with this visitor — it adds to their enjoyment of their neighborhood, they tell me! They know there could be issues between their pets and the coyote, so they have educated themselves, and they have taken the proper precautions to keep them apart always. Yay for the community!

An Exuberant and High-Energy Pre-Dawn Play Session

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Coyotes, like we humans, go through mood swings, as can be seen by their behaviors. On this particular morning, this young coyote was in a very happy mood, and showed this by racing around wildly in circles — it was a spurt of sheer joy and energy.

Then, a clod of dirt was energetically and excitedly dug up and tossed into the air. It became a toy which was chased, and jumped after any number of times.

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And then a plastic water-bottle was found:  It cracked and crackled loudly when it was (warily and distrustingly at first) pounced on or bitten, rubbed on or stepped on. The coyote seemed to love producing the sharp sounds.

When coyotes find themselves alone, they often play and entertain themselves, and often they use found objects as toys. This young coyote is one of the loners in the city who has not yet claimed a territory nor found a mate.

[Note that it was before dawn when I observed this and took the photos. I’m surprised my camera even caught these images in the dark. I was able to increase the exposure once I got home, so you actually can see what is going on!]

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In The ‘Hood: Confused, Scared and a Little Lost

walking down the middle of the street

walking down the middle of the street in San Francisco

Some of our coyotes are dispersing right now as their parents prepare for the next breeding season. Usually between the ages of 1-3, coyotes disperse: they leave their birth homes to make their own way in the world. A coyote may be forced to leave by a sibling or parents, or it may leave on its own. As they explore new areas where they have not been before, you might see one — hurrying through a neighborhood, either down a street or on the sidewalks. They stick to these passageways because coyotes, just like humans, like taking the *path of least resistance*. When they find a place with adequate natural cover, they might try it out as a place to take refuge for a while.

on the sidewalks

on the sidewalks in the heart of San Francisco

They may live for the time-being without a territory and alone. Recently dispersed coyotes tend to live in smaller open spaces, and in-between and on the edges of other coyotes’ claimed territories, and they are not territorial. These individuals are called transients or interlopers. Transients include not only dispersed youngsters, but others who have been displaced from a family — even oldsters! Being social animals, they may get lonely and may at times seek out the company or achieve a mutual *truce* with amenable dogs although they are usually not quite willing to let down their guard totally to become friends.

traversing the neighborhood

traversing a San Francisco neighborhood

Please do not befriend them, and never feed them. As consummate hunters and opportunistic eaters, they are totally able to provide for themselves. Please let them do this. Instead of being friendly, give them the cold-shoulder. They will be safer and so will your pets if you keep this psychological barrier in-place.

And please remember that, *a fed coyote is a dead coyote* — this has become a saying everyone should know. Food conditioning, which results from feeding them, causes coyotes to hang around humans, and sometimes approach and demand food. Wild animals normally defend themselves from fright, a startle, or anything else by nipping, and they will do so if provoked, even if you don’t think you are provoking them.

In alleyways

In alleyways

They will, of course, continue looking for a territory which has not already been claimed by another coyote family, or one that has been vacated for a number of reasons by another family.

Note that, once the carrying capacity of an area is filled, such as in San Francisco, coyotes move out of the city and south, where they have been found as far away as 60 miles within just a week or so. Dispersion is a high-risk time when more coyotes than usual are killed by cars. Please be careful when you drive.

finally, in a natural open space where there is hard orange for her to hide in

finally, she comes to a natural open space where there is natural coverage for her to hide in. San Francisco has plenty of these small havens.

No Need to Get Up to Howl


Sirens sounded, HE responded in the distance, and then SHE (depicted here) responded to him. She had been napping and apparently she wasn’t ready to get up, so she didn’t. Hers are the high pitched, smooth vocalizations nearby in the foreground; his are the lower pitched barks in the background. She lay her head down and went back to sleep when she was through vocalizing.

The Log Wobbled From Under Her

Have you ever stood on a log and then had it wobble out from under you because it wasn’t as solidly planted as you had imagined?

Perching high on a log for a view

Perching high on a log for a view

So, I watched this happen to a coyote. She stood on a log for a better view — coyotes like perching high for good views — and watched the world go by. Coyotes are sure footed, but how could she have known that the footing of the footing was not a sure thing? It wasn’t. The log began wobbling under her weight, and then she, too, began wobbling. She lost her balance and jumped off to investigate. She pulled and tugged on the log, this way and that, and finally she pushed it and it began to roll down the hill.

She, as we would have, watched in amusement as it rolled off. Unlike us, she went after it — maybe she was thinking, “tit for tat”? First she chased it, then she bit at it a few times — “take that!” “It’s not nice to play tricks on wildlife!” And then she pushed it with her front legs and it rolled some more, with her chasing after it.

Coyotes are particularly fun-loving and know about tricks. They play tricks on each other, and tease each other all the time. So maybe this young coyote — a loner without a family to interact with — was just doing to the log what she would have done to a sibling had she had a sibling around.

Or maybe she just really wanted a peaceful perch from which to view the world, because when the log stopped rolling at a pile of brush which would have blocked her view had she tried to get up on it, she found another perch and remained there, doing what she had wanted to do in the first place: watching the world go by!

Ahhh, here's another log that can be used for a lookout

Ahhh, here’s another log that can be used for a lookout

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