Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Face-to-face at high noon

I'm watching you watch me.
It's a shock to look up and see a face like this looking back at you. I was working at my desk about noon today when something in the garden crossed my peripheral vision, just outside the window. I shot a few photos through the window and then headed out to investigate. After searching a bit I noticed a handsome set of ears pointed my way from about 20 feet off, behind a clump of salal. The coyote hung around for several portraits, took a couple steps closer to study me, then slid under the garden fence and trotted away.

Two hours later it was back for another go!

I love canines and have shared the best years of my life with dogs. But coyotes are a special thrill because they're the wild cousins of our best friend. Dogs cast their lot with mankind thousands of years ago and we've been partners ever since. If you haven't known the love of a dog, you are the poorer.

Many people are a bit less forgiving of coyotes. They can cause grief for some, but I am drawn to them because they're wily and adaptable enough to go it alone in the world. Man can't control quite everything; thank goodness.

Sizing up the garden.
This young coyote has been hanging around lately. It may be here for the leftover fruit from our apple trees. Coyotes are carnivores and eat mainly voles, insects, reptiles, birds and other small game. And yes, domestic cats. But they are opportunistic and also eat fruit in the autumn.

I think it's pretty gutsy of this coyote to come inside the perimeter fence of our garden, from which the escape avenues are limited.  It must have a good reason to visit twice in one day, in broad daylight, and the reason probably is food.

But let's make that three visits in 24 hours. Our "security man," Duncan, sleeps in the house.  His plush bed at the foot of the stairs provides a clear view of the deck through a glass door, and apparently he sleeps with one eye open. He got us up about 12:00 last night with some fierce barking, which is unheard of.  I heard something scamper across the deck.  In hindsight, it probably was this same coyote.

I don't know if our 40-pound Duncan really wants to mix it up with a coyote, but that's what he'd like the coyote to believe. We aren't very eager to encourage a confrontation for either party's sake.

Sleeping with one eye open these days.
In any case, our little sawed-off Border Collie (with the short legs of a Corgi) is walking pretty tall right now. The little dog with a big spirit has found himself a serious job in the household, and that is every dog's dream.


  1. Ahh, that's a sweet story. Duncan is a proud dog. And I like your photos of the coyote. It's a beautiful animal. I often see a coyote mid-morning in an open field on the west side of the highway when I head home (south) from the athletic club.

  2. Good story. Do you think the coyote will act as a deterrent to deer or do they have a live-and-let-live relationship?

  3. I don't think there is anyplace the deer can go to get away from the coyotes - we have lots of both and see the evidence on our walks. While coyotes sometimes hunt in a pack, it's not unusual to see them traveling solo like the one that was after our apples. A single coyote probably isn't much of a threat to an adult deer but could be bad news for a fawn. A pack, on the other hand, would make anyone nervous including me.

  4. Great pictures and story. Love the dog!

  5. I have seen the pure embodied joy of two coyote pups frolicking in the back yard and have loved them ever since.

    I have also built a Fort Knox around my chickens to keep the coyotes away, and you know who got them? Dogs.

  6. what a great experience meeting your inquisitive wildlife neighbor for the first time! I love the story and photos. Thanks for sharing and hope to read more of your writings in the future

  7. Great job Dan. Thanks.

    Tom Campbell