Scout Fall Update

Scout’s story continues, but without the obvious adventures she had in her early life, or maybe they are continuing in a more subtle way, below most human’s radars. I see her only periodically where she had her pups this year, and just as periodically in her old hangouts where I used to see her almost single day. Instead, she’s become a stealthy shadow which my field camera occasionally picks up on, and who I see in person only a couple of times a month, if that. But I know from other people who know her that she has been moving deeper into her new territory which has/does belong to another coyote family. Will this be a territorial takeover? We’ll see. Remember that she had a baptism by fire in territorial battles and takeovers when she was younger, so she’s well seasoned if this is the direction she’s taking.

Over the last month she has appeared a couple of times during daylight hours at her old, original territory. During one of those appearances, she spewed her anger and displeasure to the one dog on her nemesis list. I wasn’t there to see or hear it, but I was told about it and sent a video. I guess she’ll never give that battle up. Interestingly, her two-year-old son who serves as the mainstay of the old fort, has taken on doing the exact same thing to the exact same dog, most likely in imitation of his mother. Coyotes do pass things along to their offspring in an almost “cultural” sort of way.

On her second daylight appearance, I found her and this same two-year-old son curled up in balls where they used to hangout regularly over a year ago on their old territory. She slept — with one eye open — right through my arrival there, not budging at all, but HE slipped off warily into the bushes where he remained hidden from view.

Two-year-old slithers into a quieter space, while Mom keep her eyes closed.

Meanwhile she went back to sleep. It was before most dog walkers were out and about — she knew she had nothing to worry about until they started arriving.

BUT, soon the dogs arrived. These three photos above shows her lifting her head, and then slowly spiraling her way to a standing position and finally “messaging” an approaching dog to leave her alone. She really didn’t want to move, but with the dog slowly approaching, and her son on the other side of her, she put in the effort to look scary. The dog walker got the message if the dog didn’t and complied by going the other way, and Scout went back to snoozing for about 20 more minutes. That’s when sirens sounded.

Interestingly, these coyotes have never vocalized a whole lot during daytime here in a response to sirens — these have more often kept their vocalizations to night and twilight hours. I wonder if daytime vocalizing is reserved for strongly established territories that the coyotes are able to defend? For many years, Scout was a loner here and she rarely howled during the day, even to sirens, unless she was chased by dogs, particularly her nemesis I mentioned above.

Left: stretching in all directions; Middle: looking over at her son and subtly communicating with him; Right, she begins to howl.

Anyway, a siren sounded when I was there, and Scout got up, taking her time about it. She stretched backwards and forwards and upwards. She stood there a moment as though debating whether or not to howl, and then looked over to where she knew her son was hiding, possibly signaling him to join her, and she began howling in response to that siren.

After she began howling, he then joined her from the distance: you can hear him in the video. After a minute, she walked in the direction of his howls and met up with him. By that time the howling from both of them had ended, and they both walker off together.

Scout walks with her son to keep him company as he leaves. Her son is the bigger coyote to the left.

She then returned alone, and, as seen below, stretched again in all directions and again looked over her shoulder to where her son was, assuring herself that he was happy and safe, and then she fell asleep again — with one eye again partially open. I waited a little while for something to happen, but nothing did, so I left..

A couple of days later I found her and her mate at their new territory at dusk, or maybe it’s their territory’s extension. I saw them as silhouettes, but the camera sometimes does better than my eyes and captured the images below. She’s with her mate in the first photo. They’ve always worked together intuitively and in tandem, almost as one. I love watching them work together, communicate, and even look at each other. He looks so much bigger than her when they are next to each other.

And below she’s doing what mothers do: grooming the one yearling youngster that went with her to the new territory (or extension of her old one). I see her two pups very seldom which is a good thing. Pups throughout the city this year are running the gamut from casual acceptance of their surroundings which include people, to continued careful wariness of them. I don’t know where Scout’s pups this year fit into the continuum, but I think it’s a good thing that I haven’t seen them.

Thief!

For my continuing long term DNA study of our San Francisco coyotes, I needed some scat (DNA is taken from the scats) from a very specific newcomer male coyote about whose origins I had no clue. I already had scat from his mate — I had seen her defecate many times and afterwards collected it, but I just simply was not seeing the activity from the male. Picking up scat right after seeing it expelled is how I know which coyote the sample came from. I had seen old scat in certain locations several times, but of course I didn’t know WHO it came from.  My solution was to catch WHO that scat came from with an automatic wildlife field camera I put out at night. I ended up putting out two such cameras in the same location. I got what I wanted, and more!

When I went to retrieve the two cameras the next morning, I was disappointed to see that one of them was gone: it had been taken — stolen. I looked over to where the second camera had been placed and was relieved to find it still there — the thief had not seen that one. I wondered if maybe that camera would reveal who the thief was?

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