Saturday, May 19, 2007

Wily Coyote

He's a much more serious beast than those old cartoons would suggest, and wily enough that he's more often heard than seen. This particular coyote has the distinction of being the first official sighting ever at Padre Island National Seashore; my sson, the National Park Service ecologist for the region, caught a series of pictures in the early evening last November.

A few particulars from Arizona Game & Fish: The animal's pointed ears, narrow nose, generally brown coat color, and black-tipped tail, which is usually held downward, help differentiate coyotes from dogs and wolves. The head and body length of coyotes is about 2 ½ to 3 feet with the tail adding another foot or so. Adult males are larger than females, the two sexes averaging about 21 and 17 ½ pounds, respectively. A very large male may attain a weight of 35 pounds. Contrary to popular belief, coyotes do not readily interbreed with either dogs or wolves.

Thanks, G&F; I hadn't realize just how small the average coyote is. I've not seen many -- once out at Sullivan Lake when it held water, though while we lived in Wilhoit, we heard packs howling almost every night. And a neighbor once reported that she saw a pup in my yard here in the city, playing with a loose hose early one morning. I hope that animal has moved on because my Max cat insists upon staying out as late as I will allow. Cats and coyotes are a fatal mix -- for the cats.

According to Wikipedia, the coyote originally ranged primarily in the western half of North America, but it has adapted readily to the changes caused by human occupation and, since the early 19th century, has been steadily extending its range. Sightings now commonly occur in California, Oregon, New England, and eastern Canada. Coyotes have moved into most of the areas of North America formerly occupied by wolves, and are often observed foraging in suburban trashcans. Surely you remember the sad tale of Hal, the city coyote who roamed NYC's Central Park for two days before capture last year.

For another, more local look at the coyote, click over to Vision in Time.


Lucy said...

He's a fine fellah, well done your son!

Anonymous said...

Nice post, I enjoyed it.

Granny J said...

Lucy -- the gold outline is real beauty!

Steve -- always happy when I make you happy.

In the meantime, I keep my fingers crossed for that arrogant cat of mine.

catalyst said...

Yes, cats are coyote candy if they're not careful.

Wonderful pictures both on your site and at Mike's.

catalyst said...

Oops, not Mike's but at Vision in Time.

Granny J said...

One of the first warnings we got upon moving west was to keep our cats indoors at dusk and beyond. But we were convinced that the critter that got one of our first stripedy Siamese kittens long ago was not a coyote but an owl that had been lurking in the neighborhood down in Wilhoit.

BTW, there are a number of interesting photo galleries at Vision in Time. Go take a look.

k said...

I had NO idea about the coyotes eating cats business until Desert Cat talked about it in comments in his latest mango post.

No idea!

I've seen them in North and Central Florida. Saw one dead, roadkill, by Tampa. Two years ago at the Fossil Farm? I heard the howling of a big pack off in the distance.

I hadn't heard that sound in maybe 25 years. I wasn't sure if I were right. So I asked at breakfast in the pole barn.

Yup. Coyotes.

Granny J said...

k -- it's a great sound those guys make at night, especially when there's a big moon! The groove on that. Somehow the idea of coyotes in Florida really freaks me out....

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