Recognition of individuals, bonded, walking home

It was still dark as two coyotes ran by in a hurry — it was hard to see them in the dim light. I looked far up the hill to see a group of walkers and their unleashed dogs — the coyotes were evading them. The coyotes kept their eyes on the group, but then stopped and looked at me. I always stand still when I see coyotes. The coyotes stopped fleeing and hung out for a moment some distance in front of me. But the walkers could then be seen again, and a woman from the group was yelling at her dog. The coyotes must have sensed danger to themselves because they then headed off and disappeared into the brush. I don’t think the group of walkers or dogs were aware of the coyotes.

The walkers moved, temporarily, out of sight and out of earshot. When I got over the crest of a hill I saw both coyotes walking slowly and calmly, and exploring the ground together. When the walkers could be heard again in the distance, the coyotes stopped their activity and looked up. When the walkers became visible again, the coyotes continued walking away from the group and in a direction I have seen them walk before. I’ve seen them walk in this direction often at about this same time — they gave the feeling that they were walking “home”. The coyotes were not in a hurry — they were far enough away from the group to know they could get away if they had to. They crossed the path, out of sight, avoiding detection by the walkers who then came down this same path.

I’ve been able to see that these particular coyotes distinguish me from groups of walkers with dogs. Through their behavior, one can see that coyotes can recognize and distinguish certain groups of dog walkers, certain dogs, and, yes, certain people.

Of note is that these two coyotes, nine-month-old siblings, tend to stick together most of the time — they appear to have a strong bond. One is definitely the leader, the other, the follower. I see them less and less often with their mother.

And the third observation that I’ve been becoming aware of, is that these coyotes were actually walking home — a direction in which I’ve seen them head, shortly after dawn, where they probably remain until dusk can camouflage them again. These coyotes are not out during daylight hours. “Home” may be a den area or close to a den area, or it may just be a place where they feel comfortable, safe and at ease: the same as what we use our own “homes” for — a place we head for at the end of a day.

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