First Contact In Pupping Season, by Charles Wood

Here in south Los Angeles county I haven’t seen any of my coyote pack members since the end of December. I still haven’t, but on Saturday one did let me know it was there.

I’ve been in their field lately about once every two weeks and none until Saturday objected. I stood near the entrance to their den area, pictured, with my leashed dog Holtz. I fiddled with somewhat moist coyote scat. For a moment Holtz stared intently into the bushes. I looked too and didn’t see anything. Getting cautious, deciding the scat was neither new nor old, we moved along and walked away from the entrance area. Holtz was compliant by my side instead of, as is usual, tugging for the lead. Suddenly a hidden coyote flitted in dried leaves to our side. Holtz did not look towards the noise. I looked hoping to see a coyote. It rustled dried leaves again, moving back and forth along our direction of travel. I cautioned it with a yell. It did not show itself and was about twenty feet away.

By its behavior, the coyote sent us much information. It’s scat told me the area was claimed. Its noises revealed a place particularly important to the coyote at this time, pupping season. I walk exactly there at other times of the year without coyote contact. Further, the coyote, by rustling leaves along our path of travel, marked a line in the brush past which we were not to come. By its speed and energy it told us it was agile and strong.

My coyotes have spoken. It is now time for me to watch them from points outside their field.

Interestingly, when the coyote rustled leaves, Holtz didn’t look. Holtz must have already known that it was a coyote making the noise. They probably had eye contact when Holtz had earlier stared into the bushes. Holtz had already been told to leave and the coyote added rustled leaves to emphasize where Holtz should never think to go.

Finally, I don’t know why the coyote didn’t come out and show itself. My coyotes have done so in the past, Mom in exactly this place about two years ago after pupping. I’ve annoyed all my coyotes enough to where they aren’t shy about coming out to scrape dirt or bark. Perhaps it was a coyote that didn’t know us.

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


These photos above show the wary interloper coyote carefully and quickly passing through.

Coyotes are territorial, and they guard and protect these territories. Seldom have I seen intruders — the coyotes I repeatedly see in different parks are resident coyotes who are very at home in their territories. Today I saw an intruder — but I wasn’t able to figure this out until I had gone home afterwards to blow up my photos — coyotes look quite different from each other once you get to know them, but when the lighting is bad and the distance is great, sometimes this isn’t immediately apparent. At the time I wondered why one of the coyotes was so on edge and tense, keeping a huge distance, tail down and wary, looking around and fixating into the distance, and finally hurrying off as if to avoid something. There were no dogs around, but the coyote was uneasy anyway. I followed it over the crest of a hill.

Here I caught up with the coyote, or so I thought, but its energy had changed drastically. Rather than being wary and skittish, the coyote was energized and exuberant, excited and enthusiastic, rushing this way and that, sniffing all over the place and obviously onto a scent. Within minutes I saw a buddy of this coyote’s in this same mode — these two are friends who spend most of their time together. These coyotes were absorbed and focused in a frantic sort of way.  They were following the scent of something and often losing, jumping and running about, and then picking it up again. They covered quite a distance which baffled me, because any rodent or raccoon or even a domestic cat would not have been able to cover the distances that these coyotes were sniffing out and rushing through. It was not until I got home and examined my photos that I realized that the first coyote was an intruder, an outsider, and the other two coyotes were intent on finding it and flushing it out.

Once before I had seen a stranger coyote pass quickly through an established territory. When one of the resident coyotes appeared in the vicinity some time afterwards, it caught the scent and followed in this same manner. I’m wondering what might have happened if the resident coyotes had caught up with the interloper? As it was, I don’t think they ever did.

These photos below show  two coyotes excited and enthusiastic, on the trail of the first.

Coyote Returns, by Charlotte Hildebrand

You can hear them at night; a pack of 50 or 100, or maybe just 20, down in the canyon yipping and yowling for a good long while after a siren goes off. I’ve never seen a pack, but I have seen a solitary coyote hanging out by the turn in the road, my headlights illuminating its opaque, glass-colored eyes, when I come home from work. I’ve wondered if this isn’t the same lone coyote that visits next door in the middle of the day, looking for a handout from my neighbor Thea.

Thea started feeding a coyote two years ago, when it was a toddler. I told her, pleaded with her, that it was wrong to feed a wild animal and, much to my surprise, she agreed; she promised to stop but then she didn’t. I felt helpless to do anything about it: my neighbor is old and lonely. The coyote was her friend.

I hadn’t seen the coyote for three or four months; I’d missed its absence, for no matter what you say, having a wild animal nearby can send shivers down your spine. It’s thrilling, yet….it’s still wrong. I was sitting down to write, when, out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash, it was the coyote back in Thea’s yard!

Coyote biding his time until I leave

I heard Thea calling to the coyote, “Come, come. Come, come,” in her German accent, as she placed food on the ground. I grabbed my video camera and ran outside. You can see in the video, the coyote looking to the left (Thea), then looking straight ahead (me) and the dilemma he finds himself in. He doesn’t know what to do: here’s a witness to his forsaking his wild coyote ways, and I imagine, he’s a little bit embarrassed. Later, he plops down in the grass in Thea’s lower yard, smelling the flowers (a true Ferdinand, the coyote), passing a peaceable afternoon.

After 45 minutes of taking the breezes and catching bugs, he goes back to dine at Thea’s table.

This posting was reprinted with Charlotte’s permission from her blog, The Rat’s Nest. Please visit her site to see and enjoy more of her fabulous writing!

Fall In LA County, by Charles Wood


In Los Angeles it had been weeks since I had seen any of the coyote family that makes its home in a field by a concrete river nearby.  Sunday I saw an eighteen month old male who I’m guessing was Mister, though it is hard to be sure given his winter coat.  I haven’t seen his mom in six weeks and it has been eight weeks since I last saw his dad.  From late spring through summer I see my coyote pack on almost any day.  In fall and winter, if not for their droppings, you would think they were not there at all.

Mister's Message

Where do they go and how far away?  Mister left a message for me today that is also a clue as to their whereabouts:  they go where the ripened fruit is and eat a lot of it.  If anyone reading recognizes the seeds, please let me know the name of the plant so I may try and locate some.

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

“Don’t Hurt Them”

"Don't Hurt Them"

Recently seen coyote sign with graffiti in the middle of Golden Gate Park in the City of San Francisco, one of the 10 largest urban centers in the United States! Most of us feel this way about our urban coyotes.

Please don’t hurt them, and please don’t take away their habitat. Their habitat includes thickets which offer them a protected place to live. Nativists are removing trees and thickets, and replacing them with native grasses which offer no habitat protection to our feathered and furry wildlife which now live in our parks.

Native grasses existed on sand-dunes which made up the landscape in 1776, but the ecology of the area has evolved since that time and it is because of this evolution that the wildlife we now have was attracted to the area and now lives here. This wildlife was not here in 1776 when the only plants were native grasses and four types of sparse growing trees.

PS: You can prevent uncomfortable encounters by keeping your dog on a short leash in known coyote areas.


Signs of Scat, An Old Coyote, A Sick Ewe and A Dead Rabbit: More on Ginny’s Coyote Area

Hi Janet,

scat upon scat (now with mold)

Yesterday I walked the other way onto the well-used multi-purpose trail called the Springwater Trail.  The first half mile of the trail heading east has had a lot of scat at times.    This is the area I referred to as being half a mile away and possibly containing a den.  Yesterday there was only one quite recent pile while everything else had been there a week ago.  Today I walked to the pups sighting location.  No new scat anywhere.  I’m wondering if that means the pups have been moved.  I also checked another part of the trail not too far away and found no new scat.  I have seen a lot of it there before also.

We saw the lame coyote once when he trotted in front of our car.  He looked and moved like a very old dog would move and that is why I label him as old.  He is not thin but is very ragged looking.  I have only seen a coyote once on the trail (that is how I found your blog because I wanted to learn all that I could about them) and that was right at the trail entrance near our house.  Hunting for rabbits no doubt!  Bud saw an adult last fall on one of his walks. Both of these had beautiful coats and seemed very healthy.

trail where pups appeared

Last week I met a family with grandparents walking on the trail and mentioned the coyote scat to the children.  The grandparents told me they have sheep and coyotes stand at their fence and sing and whine all the time.  The grandfather told me that recently he had a sick, old ewe and THREE DAYS later when he went to check on her he only found most of her skeleton.  He is sure the coyotes picked her clean – including her gum tissue and ribs.  They said coyotes would infrequently take a newborn lamb after I asked if they thought the coyotes actually killed anything.  Any person who would knowingly leave a sick animal for three days – well I cannot relate to them.  I’m very cautious what I say to people on the trail about the coyotes.   One man we see on the trail is sure someone shot coyotes a few years back.

blackberries through which pups disappeared; there is more scat again now, indicating resumed activity in the immediate area

On Monday I noticed a dead rabbit at the beginning of the trail which is near our house.  It appeared to have died mid-crawl.  I turned it over and did not see any injuries or changes in hair.  About a week earlier Bud said “it smells like something died in the blackberries” as we walked by the same location.  Several neighbors and dog walkers who use the trail came to the same conclusion I did – that a neighbor might be poisoning rabbits.  We are all very concerned.  I really hope this is not the case.  Yes, rabbits do incredible damage to yards and gardens but rabbit fencing keeps them out.  I know, we added it to the existing deer fence around our yard.  Yesterday the rabbit was gone but I suspect a neighbor disposed of it.  I have read that coyotes are very smart about not consuming poisoned food and I hope that is the case here.  We have a family of red-tailed hawks in the greenspace that I am really enjoying and I think they prefer freshly killed prey over carrion.  Poison can travel so fast up and down the food chain.

I’ll let you know if I notice any changes.  I don’t expect to see coyotes because our dog really seems to have a history with coyotes.  He is a Bouvier rescue we have had almost a year.  He spent several years running loose on the NM mesas and he thinks deer, coyotes and rabbits are to be chased.  He also barks like crazy.  I’m sure the local coyotes know him and make sure not to reveal themselves to us!


Description Of One Coyote Area

Janet,  I went with Bud this evening so he could show me the details of his encounter with the pups. He also showed me where they dashed into the blackberries and there is definitely a pathway there if you know where to look.  There has been a great deal of scat on that portion of the trail since Feb. which is why I suspected a den.

I did see five piles of scat that were left within the last 24 hours along the trail closer to our house and on the way to the sighting location.  Three of those piles were from large coyotes so I’m confident there is a parent around.  I will now worry less about the pups.  One thing I noticed that I have not seen before  is one pile of scat that had another one on top and around it.  They seemed to be about the same age – probably several days.  Is there a significance to this?  This was very near where the pups dashed into the blackberries.

A dog walker who I recognized told me that she had encounters with two different coyotes very recently.  The first was with an old, lame coyote which turned and trotted up the trail.  This coyote has been spotted often in and near the greenspace.  The second was just two days ago and that coyote stood in the center of the path and stared at her and her two dogs.  She said that the coyote did not appear to be afraid of her and wasn’t moving so she turned her larger dog lose to chase it off!  Her dog returned within minutes and they continued their walk.  Both of these sightings were in the same area and not near the area where Bud saw the pups.

About three weeks ago someone dumped about 25 salmon along side the road near the entrance to the trail where she saw the coyotes.  There is also an entrance very near that one which we use that has an abundance of rabbits.  The coyotes are in the area daily I would guess although the scat now also has cherry pits.  Ginny


Hi Ginny — There is a lot of information here — a pretty complete picture in a nutshell!  Thank you for sharing it!  There is a den hidden by blackberries back and away from a trail, and a semi-hidden path leading to it, with scat at or close to its entrance. I’m wondering if what you describe as “one pile of scat on top and around another” might just be the “marking” by one coyote on top of the last guy’s marking which is typical of all canines? Or, it might be that a parent is “covering over” a pup’s scent?  I have never seen two scats on top of each other, so I am speculating.

Your friend’s two encounters show two kinds of reactions: coyotes often trot off quickly when they see a person or a dog, but they sometimes will delay and study what is coming their way before leaving, being almost forced to leave at the last minute. 

I have found that coyotes who live in urban areas do not appear always to be afraid of humans, although they do keep a safe distance away; they learn to take people and dogs in stride once they become accustomed to seeing them for a period of time. This is, unless a dog threatens them in which case a chronic antagonistic relationship could develop between the dog and coyote.

That you have an injured coyote is interesting — I hope it is just a temporary injury — you described that coyote as old. Old age takes its toll on all of us, including wild animals. It is interesting for me to find out how these senior citizens cope in their declining years.  I’ve seen a lame (temporarily lame) young coyote hurry away from dogs from a much further distance than he did before or after the injury, so this may have had something to do with the older fella hurrying off. But also, each coyote is an individual with its own personality, and some tend to be shyer and more careful, and some bolder than others.

The salmon must have been a feast for all the wildlife around:  raccoons, skunks, raptors as well as the coyotes. Scat reveals a lot about coyote diets.  Coyotes are opportunistic eaters — which means they can eat almost anything that is edible. I guess they found a cherry tree!

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries