Cain and Abel

Sibling rivalry exists in almost all families, and in almost all species. The first baby eagle born makes it his job to push the others out of the nest. Fratricide is the most extreme result of sibling rivalry. But before that point is reached, a sibling might be driven by another sibling from what had been his home.

This is the best-case scenario I can think of, in a coyote family which I have been observing for two years now. The more submissive of the twin male siblings had been bullied and dominated for several months. Although when this happened he would always increase the distance between himself and his brother, more recently he had been standing up for himself by growling and snapping back, and even remaining close by — as if stating that he wasn’t going to be pushed around. Then, one morning, I heard unusual coyote sounds: these were complaining-like squeals which lasted about five minutes before petering out totally. Charles Wood has suggested that those squeals might have been from the type of fight that produced the rump wounds I had seen and posted earlier on. I don’t know if this is related or not, but the day I heard those sounds marks the last time I saw the more submissive of the two coyote siblings which I had come to know as a family. Until that point, he was the one that was most visible and out in the open. His disappearance was very sudden and very total.

Did he just disperse, or did something worse come to pass? Charles Wood has suggested another possibility: that this coyote might have been banished from contact but not from the area — hiding in the day and eating at night. If I see him again I will post it, but it has been a month now since I last saw him. Worst-case scenarios also exist, brought to mind by hearsay and conversations I’ve had with individuals in the parks. Although highly unlikely, these possibilities include kidnapping either for breeding purposes or as bait for pit bull fighting — an illegal practice which continues in this area, or even removal by park visitors who have been wanting coyotes “relocated” for some time. Let’s cross our fingers that any of these is not the case.

Looks Like Maybe Three’s A Crowd

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There are 39 slides in the sequence above. The lighter coyote is the Mom who is fairly neutral — she looks away most of the time. But the two others are diametrically opposed in their behaviors: they are male sibling rivals.

The more submissive coyote usually has his ears back or down, showing his submissiveness. He runs off when threatened, sometimes bares his teeth or snaps at the aggressor, hits the ground, and twice reaches out towards the neutral mother.

The dominant aggressor rushes at the submissive guy. He keeps his tail high, stands high, appears overpowering, has an intense gaze, pursues, pushes, mounts, knocks to the ground and generally bullies. He also pushes himself between the other two to keep them apart! The sequence here lasted about 13 minutes.

A Bit of Sibling Rivalry For Mom?

This posting actually goes along with the last one, the one about affection and love, but I wanted to separate these photos out because of something new I saw.  At first glance the “greeting”  appeared to be a pile-up of mutual affection between a mother and her two yearling pups. On closer examination, I could see that it actually consisted of puppy-love for their mother. Of course, Mom is the one that came looking for the pups, knowing full well that her presence would elicit their affection, and she accepted their affection. She seemed to be very even handed with them.

After even further examination, I could see that there were instances of rivalry between the two pups for contact with Mom. In this sequence of photos I saw one of the pups narrow his eyes a number of times at the other yearling when he came close. Hmm. I wonder how this will develop over time!!