Novelty Spurs A Super Playtime At The Rendezvous

A while back I was told by someone with some animal behavior training, that “novelty” is something coyotes stay away from. That novelty and smelly human socks were things coyotes avoided and therefore could be used to drive coyotes away.

Actually, the opposite seems to be true. I’ve seen coyotes absolutely delight in smelly old human shoes, their socks, coats and hats: they tend to actually be attracted to these things and to anything novel, including balloons waving in the wind, and even large objects like huge dirt piles and tractors — and no matter that the size and configuration of the huge dirt piles changed daily over a five day period, that the tractors were never in the same places, that the huge log piles grew and then slowly disappeared over a five day period, the coyotes returned for their play there day after day.

The morning that I took these photos, a huge, deep hole had been dug into the very level ground. It went down as deep as the piled up dirt was high. You can’t really tell from my photo, but the pit is very deep. My fear when I saw the hole was that if I, or a coyote from the family which roams the area were to slide in, there would be no getting out without help. Luckily, everyone was sure-footed and no one fell in!

So, after the tractors had done their work in the morning, I arrived at the huge pit and dirt pile. It was rendezvous time, which is the evening get-together when coyotes meet-up for play, grooming, re-confirming their family positions and eventually trekking. At the allotted time — and I must say that I don’t know how each coyote knows to appear at about the same time because they emerge from different areas of the park — possibly they’re just waiting and watching — they raced excitedly and playfully towards each other with greetings.

Initial play and greetings before heading over to the novel items

Their greetings were full of fun, as usual, and then they headed straight over to the three huge tractors and dirt pile that hadn’t been there the day before, where they exploded in play: running around as though these things had been placed there specifically for their enjoyment! They ran and chased each other along the top ridge of the dirt, and up and down, they explored the tractors, they explored and clambered all over the high wood-pile. And they smiled at all their fun. They did not avoid anything new, and it all was new. Enjoy the fun!

Smiling and happy after an intense chase on the ridge of the dirt pile

A Puddle

This scene brought to mind the opening line in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ “One Hundred Years of Solitude”,  where the author remembers going “to discover ice”.  Here, the discovery is water. Of course, the coyote knows water — he drinks it all the time, but here he seems to discover something about it beyond its thirst-quenching capabilities or its wetness. For one, the large puddle suddenly appeared where there hadn’t been one only the day before: THAT was something to investigate.

The youngster, a six-month old, curiously tests and discovers its qualities as an object and a phenomenon.  He touches its surface several times: it sends out waves when he does so, he can step through it even though it looks solid, he can see reflections (might he see himself?), it splashes, he can lift a little on his paw before it falls apart and off his paw, he can feel it and it “responds” but doesn’t hurt him, and of course he can drink it, and it’s wet and cold. The natural world is endlessly fascinating, isn’t it!

I was able to capture some still shots when this occurred, which you see above. The video, which I switched to at the very end, captures only the last few seconds of the coyote’s charming investigation.

Suspicious of Novel Items in A Known Environment? (Revised and Updated)

A new pile of debris, consisting of cardboard pieces in a pile, caught the attention of this 3-year-old female coyote as she headed to her favorite hideout retreat for the day. She approached the pile, as though she were hunting — slowly and carefully, almost tip-toeing in. Then, she turned her head from side to side as she listened for what kind of sounds the new “object” might make. The pile remained silent, so she decided to investigate closer.  She snuck up, ever so carefully and hesitatingly, and attempted grabbing a section of the cardboard in her mouth. This caused another piece of cardboard to shift and move where she had not expected movement. She immediately flinched back, backed up, and then stood behind a planter, keeping an eye on the pile of cardboard. Nothing happened, but, for the time being, it wasn’t worth the risk to explore further. Her suspiciousness ruled supreme, and she skedaddled lickety-split away from the cardboard, around some bushes, and out of sight.

Coyotes are very aware, wary, and suspicious of any changes in their known environment. In this case, someone had dumped some cardboard outside their home. Even though the new material made her uneasy, the coyote was curious and checked it out: she was actually drawn to it. The unexplained movement in the cardboard served to further raise her suspicions, but only temporarily: she moved away but then came back to finish her investigation. Now, I see her there constantly, totally ignoring the piece of cardboard. Each coyote is different, and in what I’ve seen, innate curiosity seems to trump fear — at least little fears!

 

When the Cats Are Away….

In each of the parks I frequent, I always see the same coyotes. These coyotes claim their territories, keeping other coyotes, for the most part, out. But the coyotes also engage in excursions to other areas, and I’m not sure what their claim is to these other areas — are they just interlopers?  When they make these excursions — and who knows what they go checking out or why — they are not at home to oversee their own territory. Hmmm….

So, today, the resident coyotes in one of the parks were gone. And…. the “intruder” took it upon herself to roam and explore their home territory in their absence. This is the most I’ve ever seen of her. She did a lot of sniffing and roaming, and she fled quickly from a couple of walkers who saw her. But, interestingly, although I found one small piece of scat on a trail before I became aware of her — and I have no idea if it was hers, I did not see this intruder coyote “mark” at all as she explored. Was she avoiding leaving her scent? Exploring coyote behavior is a voyage of discovery for me, too, and very fascinating!

Leaps n’ Bounds

I guess something exciting caught this fellow’s eye as I followed his movements from across a street. Whatever it was, it got away! The coyote ambled on, as he had been doing before the leaping began. Better luck next time.

Coyotes Like To Check Things Out Thoroughly

Here a coyote is stretching up high to check out a tree stump — coyotes are very curious and inquisitive, and they can be very purposeful. They normally trek along, sniffing at ground level or at eye level, but I also have seen coyotes climb the lower branches of trees when they’ve seen a squirrel there, and I’ve seen them jump high onto an unlikely rock ledge to check out a sound, smell or something they saw. Here, the coyote headed for the tree as if it knew what might be there, and scrutinized it intensely — he seemed to know exactly what he was looking for at that particular spot. He spent over a minute engaged in this activity. However, he left as empty-mouthed as when he arrived. I later checked out the tree stump for myself. There were two large hollows where the coyote had been exploring. One was about a foot deep and the other was about two feet deep. Each was about 8 inches across. Nothing was in those hollows — and they were too close to the ground to serve as wise critter nests.

My thought is that the coyote had found something very interesting there before, or maybe another critter had recently visited this spot leaving its scent there? Seeing this coyote check out the tree reminded me of how keen the memory is for canines. My own dog remembered the exact tree, way off the beaten path, in a heavily wooded area that we had visited only once a year or two earlier. At that time, a raccoon had run to that tree for protection. My dog had followed and watched the fellow watch him from the crook of the tree. Memory of the raccoon incident, and its exact remote location in the middle of nowhere, from a single incident long ago, astonished me because I had totally forgotten about it until my dog ran up to that tree again.

What To Do With A Long Strip Of Tree Bark?

If something like this were to appear in your path, you might be inclined to look at it, grab it, move it and then, after some thought, abandon it as not being too interesting after all. A good long bored yawn might cap off the “encounter.”

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