Pups are Four-Months Old Now and Beginning to Venture Out More

Pups in the San Francisco Bay Area are now about four-months old and they are venturing out into the world more, so you might be lucky enough to see one! To a human who doesn’t know them well, a pup from a distance may be indistinguishable from an adult. A couple of weeks ago I posted photos of a young mother who had been regularly mistaken for a pup. But they really are different, beginning with their size which is just about 80% of an adult’s right now. But since coyotes vary in size, you may not be able to use this to tell if what you are seeing is actually a pup, especially if it is alone or far away. At this time of year, most coyotes look smaller than usual because they have shed their very thick, fluffy, 3″ coats for the summer.

Pups are distinguished from adults more by their behavior than anything else. Pups are flighty, quick, very wary, erratic and sometimes not well coordinated. They will show subservience when they greet any of the adults by crouching low. They’ll be the first to flee when they see you, at the same time as they peek around bushes to watch you, always from a very safe distance: they are extremely curious. Some are braver than others and they’ll most likely carry their bravery (or lack thereof) with them into adulthood. Each coyote has it’s own personality, not unlike us humans, and as far as I’ve seen, some of it is innate and some is acquired.

I love watching their bouts of *twisting-and-bowing-or-springing* — there must be a name for this but I don’t know what it is — where they seem not quite able to direct themselves, or they become conflicted about what to do, and instead get tied up in knots for a few seconds as uncontrolled energy mixed with indecision courses through their bodies!

In the photo below you’ll see a four-month old pup born this year to the right, and a yearling — born last year — to the left. The yearlings are protective of their younger siblings and actually help raise them. In this case, these are sisters from different litters from different years and each has one litter-mate.

Please keep your distance from all coyotes. What we should be loving about them is their *wildness*. By not feeding or befriending them, you will be preventing irreversible behaviors from taking hold and helping coexistence to work!

Coyote Family Life: Bantering, then Grooming

Bantering and play are a big part of life for coyotes

Teasing and provoking by pulling on your friend’s leg or neck, ducking and evading, a swing to the left and another to the right, baring your teeth and lowering your head — all the while keeping your ears in a low, non-aggressive position. This is how coyotes play, and they usually do so at their *rendezvous*: after spending daylight hours sleeping and apart, they come together for their social activities around dusk time.

Afterwards, there is a grooming session, where they accept the grooming caresses from each other as they calm down.

happily worn out from the exuberant play, it’s time to calm down for a few moments

This play can involve a mated pair, it can involve a parent and a pup as long as the pup shows proper obeisance, and it can involve adult siblings who actually live apart but continue their childhood relationship for a while.

grooming each other is another way to interact

Affection and Confirmation of Hierarchy at Rendezvous

HE was out looking for her, and then I lost sight of him. Then I caught sign of her, keeping hidden, but obviously looking for him. They found each other and came together for their rendezvous and greeting.

Their snouts touch and their eyes meet, and she gives him a kiss with her tongue — you can see her tongue in the first photo below where she gently caresses and nuzzles him.

The *touching* proceeds with her putting both paws on his back — claiming and confirming her higher rank — he allows it and even invites it: it’s a sign of affection and harmony in this little family.

Off they go for their evening together after having spent daylight hours apart.

After that, they head off for their adventures of the evening, after having dozed the daylight hours away in separate locations.

Looks Like A Pup, But It’s A Mother Coyote!

Here is a mother coyote that people have been mistaking for a pup. At this time of year, after the entire coat of fur has been shed, coyotes indeed can look very small and thin, with very large ears that seem too big for their heads — just the way a coyote pup might look. This particular coyote is on the smaller side to begin with — probably under 25 pounds which may contribute to people’s thinking that she’s a pup.

Please keep away from all coyotes, be they pups or adults.

Morning Glory: Kicking Up His Heels At Sunrise

These shots were taken from far in the distance, so they are not terribly sharp, but the coyote’s silhouette as he exuberantly leaped, raced and frolicked along the early morning dawning skyline, absolutely gleefully, with the clear message that he was ever so happy to be alive, was a magical sight worthy of a posting.

On another day, another silhouette scene, with a coyote exuding the same “happy to be alive” exuberance, but this time facing into the rising sun:

Daybreak After July 4th

We humans live our lives often forgetting about the other creatures who are around. On the 4th, there were beastly loud and continuous firework blasts and scary lights in the skies, judging from the reactions of some dogs and some people. Our activities affect the myriad of animals, wild and not wild, who mostly inconspicuously inhabit our city with us. You can see our effect when you are able to zero-in on an animal’s sudden change of routine behavior.

Out-door concerts in the parks also affect animals. They affect me: I find that they are too loud to be near for too long, and the noise prevents me from doing other things. The noise is very loud and continuous over multiple days — it’s a long period of time. Throngs of people upset the equilibrium of a normally calmer park which the animals are used to. The fences put up, say in Golden Gate Park, to make sure everyone who goes to the concerts pays their way, in fact often separate animals from their families and each other, and from their food and water sources, with no way to go around or under them. Caring humans who are in-the-know try hard to fix problems caused by interminable fences, but maybe, might it not be better to have the concerts in an enclosed space, such as Cow Palace, where the disruption wouldn’t be quite so brutal to all other forms of life?

In San Francisco for the 4th, besides the big fireworks in the Bay which were put on by the City itself, people put on their own fireworks displays throughout the city, some on the periphery of parks.  I did not go to these celebrations, so I was unable to see any coyote’s reaction to all of it.

But the first thing I saw in the morning of the 5th was the used fireworks debris strewn all over the intersection of a road, mostly along the curbs, next to a park. A burning odor permeated the area, still. The noise had been tremendous and lasted for many hours, and I was told that crowds of people had gathered in the parks to watch — another disruption for wildlife.

Then I glimpsed the little coyote who I normally see sitting calmly on a bluff overlooking her domain or engaging in apparently happy play in the wee hours of the morning. This coyote was not at its usual spot or engaging in its usual activities. In fact, the coyote hurried stiffly from I-know-not-where to the edge of the park. It looked worried and preoccupied and didn’t even glance my way. It looked far out in all directions. And then it abruptly turned and hurried at a brisk trot, very purposefully, past me and away, down several streets and out of sight, rather than remaining, as was its routine, to watch the passers-by.  Is it coincidental that July 4th was the previous night? Or might this animal’s anxious (my word) behavior be tied to the disruptive (my word) activity of the previous evening? You decide.

Last year an observer told me that, after five days of heavy concerts-in-the-park, the little family of 5 coyotes she had been watching regularly suddenly vanished never to be seen again. The family probably just took off.  Maybe we should think about our human impacts a little more seriously?

If You Play With Bumble Bees . . . .

Boredom might cause you to try playing with bumble bees, if you are a coyote. After chasing and biting at them for a few minutes, this coyote went back and punched the nest to have a little more fun — a little more excitement — and the coyote got what it asked for. Hmmm, looks like the bumble bees got angry. Enjoy the video!

We small group of onlookers were waiting for the expected outcome, while at the same time, rooting for it not to happen. The coyote obviously didn’t know that such a tiny creature, a bumble bee, might produce such a shot of pain. The coyote is lucky the target was a paw and not its nose. Even so, it looks like the sting was painful, judging by the attention paid to that paw about an hour later. I’ll keep my eye on this fella to see if it learned its lesson!


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