Coyote Hours & Avoiding Humans

I’ve noticed that most coyotes tend to have their preferential times of day for their activity — this tends to be predominantly at dawn, dusk and night time. However, I have discovered that at least one coyote has been active at any hour of the day and at all hours of the night over time.  I’ve run into people who told me that they had heard this coyote at 7:30 pm, 9:00 pm and at midnight and 2 am and then at 5:00 am. I myself have heard it at 7:00 am and later in the morning. People have seen this coyote at dusk, in the late afternoon and in the early morning. I saw it recently right before noon — not just a glimpse of it, but I was able to keep track of it for close to an hour because it was out in the open. We all tend to believe that coyotes are nocturnal or dawn/dusk creatures — but this is not so.

So, before noon, I came around a bend to find a coyote standing on a slightly elevated area. The coyote looked around and then stretched as it walked down and over to a greener patch of ground. I successfully moved off to the side where my presence wouldn’t be an intrusion. The coyote climbed up onto a rock where it ate grass for about seven minutes, after first having wandered through this very grassy area to select where the grass was best. It seemed to carefully pick each blade, and seemingly savored each leaf.

When a couple of bikers became visible in the distance, the coyote stood very still and watched until the bikers could no longer be seen. The coyote also stood perfectly still as a runner ran by — probably within 100 feet of the coyote — the runner said hello to me but did not see the coyote. I seldom point out coyotes to others anymore, except if there are children or dogs involved. Right after this, a mom and her young child appeared on the scene. I knew this mother and child and pointed out the coyote to them. The coyote was right there in plain view and not far off. These new observers must have tipped the scale for the coyote after the bikers and the runner: the coyote now walked up and away. But I found the coyote again, resting in a secluded spot.

After about 20 minutes, the coyote stretched and scanned the area quickly before it began trekking back to where I had originally seen it. On its way, it stopped short and stood frozen and still. About 200 feet ahead, right on the coyote’s path, was someone practicing their Tai Chi Chuan. The coyote just stood frozen for a few seconds trying to figure this out, and then quickly descended a steep, pathless incline into an overgrown and secluded meadow area where it was all alone. The important point about all of this is that this coyote avoids people whenever it can. It might stand perfectly still if it thinks it will not be seen by a person who has suddenly appeared, but otherwise it moves away from people, and it does not move forward on a path if a person is up ahead.

I watched as the coyote hunted in this secluded area: it noticed stuff in the ground — I know not what, and it noticed birds in bushes, cocking its head with interest now and again. It ended up on a main path where a father and son were enjoying some time together perched high on a rock. I thought I should point the coyote out because of the child. These people, it turns out, live right on the park and know this coyote well. They and I watched and I took photos. The coyote checked out the trail ahead by climbing again to a lookout, and then wandered on, watching the ground for a possible meal and noticing bird movements in trees. The coyote continued walking on until it saw someone approaching on the path ahead with two large dogs. At this point the coyote slithered into a dense brush area and was gone from my view. The approaching walker and dogs never saw the coyote.

So, this coyote wants to stay away from people: it froze to avoid being detected by bicyclists and it did the same when a runner went by; it walked off when people approached, it checked out trails before taking them, descending into secluded or brushy areas when people were on the paths ahead. Only the two parents with kids noticed the coyote for a few brief moments. Although the coyote did pass towards the father and son, they were high on a rock and on a totally different “level” than the coyote. I have noticed that “levels” create an added degree of removal in the coyote’s and in human eyes.

This was the third day in a row that I had found this coyote in the same area at close to the same time, and it made me feel uneasy — a kind of fear for its safety. Although the coyote had been on a bluff overlooking what was below, at the same time it was right next to a path on the bluff which put it on the same level as walkers — not “one level removed”. The path is not heavily used, but on this last day there eventually were two bikers, a runner, a mom and son, myself, and someone practicing Tai Chi Chuan — all within less than an hour. On other paths, main paths, there was a dog walker with two dogs and a father-son. Again, this was right before noon.