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Thread: Coyote Behavior

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Question Coyote Behavior

    When I was out looking for bear today I had a pretty cool experience with a couple of coyotes, and I'm wondering if what was happening was a prelude to mating. Not that familiar with coyote behavior, so I thought I'd throw it out there to the masses.

    When I crested a hill this morning I heard a distinct yelping and howling of either a coyote or a wolf. The barking and yelping seemed coyote-like, whereas the howls seemed more wolf-like. The sound was almost constant. For the next 30 minutes the animal was never silent for more than 10 seconds at a time, and most of the sequences of howling and barking lasted for at least a minute. I eventually got into a position where I was directly across a small cut from the source of the noise - I was on one cliff and the sound was obviously coming from another cliff-top about 500 yards away. I then saw a flash through the trees and was able to see the animal through my binoculars. for the next 15 minutes I saw this single coyote jump back and forth erratically, kick up dirt with its hind legs, and even appear to chase a few little critters around, once right over the ledge of this cliff. (While I thought it was a wolf at first, it was a little too small and had a more triangular-shaped face. Once I got a clear look I was fairly certain it was a coyote.) This erratic behavior accompanied by the vocalizations continued for another 10 minutes until it suddenly stopped. I listened and watched closely, but eventually moved my attention elsewhere and then....well, it was such a nice day that I simply fell asleep in the sun for an hour or so. :) I was awakened by the howling once again, but this time it only lasted for 5 minutes. For the next 3 hours I dropped down into the river valley below and hiked around before returning to my cliff-top vantage point. I was about to head home when I heard it again. This time when I saw the flash of fur through the woods I caught a very brief glimpse of one coyote chasing another. I heard them for another two minutes or so, but never saw them again.

    So...was this a mating ritual? Something else? Whatever it was, it was an awesome experience to be serenaded by those coyotes all day long. What a great day!

    -Brian

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    Brian
    mating season for coyotes is in Feb and March. What you saw was a den. The pair should have dug the den at the end of march or beginning of April. The young coyote pups are probably already born in the den. I think the young coyote pups will start emerging out of the den about June,

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Tony - Yeah, I was thinking about this last night and realized that the pups should be around any time now, so it couldn't have been a mating ritual. (I need to think a bit before posting such questions!) Still, I'm curious as to what instigated this coyote to howl and bark for the better part of 5 hours while running around. Strange, no?

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    I'm not sure why they would howl that long. They are pretty social critters though. Maybe they didn't like you in the area? Just a possibility.

    Tony

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    On a predator hunting forum a biologist claimed a coyote will not howl more than once in a two minute span. Basically, he claimed, they just can't do it. I have not heard a coyote constantly howl, but I frequently hear them howl in intervals. I just have not been in the right place at the right time, and the areas I hunt have heavily traveled so the coyotes are more likely to be skiddish. It must have been a great experience though, too bad it wasnt April 29th. :)

    I would search the internet for coyote howls in mp3 format. Listen to them and you should be able to tell if it was a challenge how/bark, invitation, playfull howl, etc etc etc. I used to be able to recite most of them on a handcall by memory until I bought an ecaller. :)

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Tony - I heard them before they could have possibly known I was in the area. Literally right as I crested a hill over a mile away I could hear them.

    Gremlin - It wasn't all howls - it was a mix of yelps, barks, howls, and other vocalizations. Weird, but really cool to listen to/watch.

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    I was in the vicinity of a coyote den a long time ago and they were going nuts for over an hour. I also have watched 2 coyotes reacting to a mountain lion as it walked nearby. Yelps and a lot of barking until the mountain lion moved through. Sounds similar to what you experienced. Although you may have not even been on their radar screen, there could have been a bear or wolf or other in the vicinity to set them off.
    Also coyotes at their den sites with pups can just get crazy on their own.
    Anyway, sounds like fun.

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    thats cool where were you? I've never seen a coyote in Alaska (only one in the yukon)
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Were you asking me, AKPM? If so, I was just a little ways downstream from the Matanuska Glacier on a bluff overlooking the river.

    I've seen coyotes a few other times up here, twice on the ice of Potter Marsh in the winter.

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