Thursday, August 27, 2020


A couple of days ago I went on an early morning walk in the canyon near our home. I had a camera as I was hoping to get a photo of a barn owl I'd seen the day before. As I turned off an eastward heading main trail on to a side trail going south, I heard what sounded like a dog barking at me about 30 yards away. The day before I'd seen a woman walking a dog in about the same spot and a vision of that woman and dog came into my mind. The dog kept barking and I got annoyed, wondering why the woman was not shushing her dog. So I veered to the northwest through some brush in the direction of the barking and heard the barking going away. I veered off to the main trail in the hope to see if it was the woman, but couldn't see anything. A couple of high notes from the dog got me to wondering if it could be a coyote? However, I've never had a coyote anywhere near that close to me make a noise, let alone a continual barking. 

I went back south in the same direction I'd been heading, but on the top of a small ridge that gave me a better view. The barking started again to the west, but I couldn't see the dog (or coyote). I was heading south, then turned onto a trail heading west, then turned south on another small trail to a trail heading west along another ridge. Then the barking started again, this time about 30 yards from me, just south, on the side of a hill covered with live oak trees and brush. By this time I was sure it was a coyote, but it kept barking, with occasional high yelps. I kept scanning the hillside, but could not see it. I continued on the trail and it eventually wound south over to the next hill that the coyote was on. I walked east down the ridge of that hill, without a trail, wading through tall brush, hoping to catch a glimpse of the coyote. I circled through some small trees then stepped back out and looked east and saw the coyote sitting on its haunches, staring at me, about 40 yards away. I pulled up my camera for a photo and it bolted to the north back into the trees and heavier brush. 

Now I was pumped. I really wanted to see the coyote again and get a photo. The coyote had scrambled to the north, so I continued down the ridge to the east hoping to get to the bottom into an area that would give me a better view. As I got to the bottom, I heard the coyote barking again, but to the south again, in a different canyon. So I turned south and then west into the next canyon and started scanning the hill to the south. The coyote was barking constantly with occasional high yelps, but nothing ever like the mournful howl we hear at night in the the early morning. 

Then I spotted it, about halfway up the side of the hill in a clearing between trees. I got some photos, then it disappeared again. 

I was thrilled to get photos, but scratching my head as to what the continual barking meant?  I've seen quite a few coyotes, but never this close (except when in a car) and never with the continual barking. This post had a comment from the lead biologist of the study of urban coyotes in Chicago. He said, "Coyotes bark when alarmed, sense danger and want to warn other family members of potential danger." I'm guessing that there were perhaps some young coyotes in the vicinity it was trying to protect, although this late in the year they should be getting pretty big. Whatever it was, it was behavior I've never seen before. 

1 comment:

  1. What fun to see a coyote in its natural environment (as opposed to on the street, etc.). Great photos!