Not Seen

For three full hours this coyote was able to avoid being seen by anyone at all except one man who said he thought he might have seen it, but wasn’t sure!  The coyote picked times to move around when there was little activity. When it heard or saw someone, it slipped casually into the bushes — there was no quick movement which might have drawn one’s attention to it, so people simply did not notice. When there were not enough bushes around to “slip into”, ducking casually behind one, so as to be partially hidden, worked. At one point, on parallel paths separated by greenery, the coyote simply stood absolutely still and watched, until the “danger” on the other parallel path had passed, and then continued on its slow trek. When it stopped to relax, it did so in tall grasses or against shrubbery or far enough away from the beaten path so as not to draw attention to itself. Most importantly, it moved slowly or stood absolutely still — walkers and runners would go by without noticing the coyote at all.

Of course, this is not always the case. Sometimes a coyote gets unlucky and is seen — and people like to tell others what they have seen so word spreads.  But also I have seen coyotes who allow themselves to be very conspicuous at times — seemingly on purpose. They do so most often by picking a dog-walking time for an excursion or to check things out. And then there is always the surprise encounter when someone suddenly appears on the path ahead. If there is a dog involved, a coyote will stop its activity and look at the dog until it passes, and then continue with whatever it had been doing and wherever it had been going.

Experts at Eluding Detection: Coyote behavior

I keep my eyes open for wildlife — this is where my focus is, so I have become pretty good at catching what someone else might miss. Today I spotted a coyote on a path — pretty visible right in the open — but it was gone in the blink of an eye. The minute it knew it had been seen, it immediately was absolutely and totally GONE. It had bounced, like a rabbit, into some underbrush, and although I thought I might be able to see it again, I did not. The day before I was able to make out two ears way up ahead on the horizon with the sun coming from that direction — visibility was bad. When I got there, no critter was to be seen anywhere until with much effort I was able to detect a slight movement off to the side. It was the coyote, well camouflaged behind some thorny underbrush. I had only an instant to look, before it was off and gone.

Coyotes are often not seen by walkers: they easily elude detection, even if you are looking for one. I have seen many walkers not see one that crossed very close in front of them! Of course, at other times you might see one wandering boldly on an open path, totally unconcerned, and it might turn around and examine you out of curiosity. Or you might see one surveying the area from a lookout. There are no generalities with coyotes.

Invisibility Cloak: Coyote behavior

Coyotes have a fabulous ability to appear stealthily on the scene, and to stealthily disappear!  In the early morning you might see one, on the horizon suddenly, and barely at first, in the form of a whispering shadow — coming in “on little cat feet” like the fog. Or, you might see one, suddenly, sitting some ways in front of you when you turn your head, where it was not before. I think this feeling of “sudden appearance”  involves a psychological aspect “the not-expected”, along with a coyote’s slow, smooth and even movements, and the coyote’s absolutely wonderfully camouflaged coat. Most of us are not expecting to see a coyote, so it appears, seemingly, out of nowhere, like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland. Once it is spotted, it is easy to keep in your vision — until it decides to disappear.

Several times I’ve followed a coyote that was fleeing from something — it was running quickly down a path — only to find it had totally disappeared around a bend. That part is not so unusual, but when I have questioned people who were around, most often none of them ever saw it!

Another time I saw a coyote veer off into a brush area — a small brush area. I could not find it anywhere, even though I’ve gotten pretty good at tracking and trailing wild animals. But later I saw that it had gone nowhere at all — I found it close to where I had last seen it!

I’ve seen coyotes evade, or sometimes even never be seen by, many dogs and many humans. Dogs and humans will walk by on a trail without a clue as to what is watching them — coyotes can be very still and they like to watch. They really don’t care to be seen, for the most part, and they know how to make this work — for the most part.