Coyotes have a reputation bigger than life. In the Southwest and Mexico, they were known by natives and immigrants alike as “trickster” because of their wily ways, cunning, versatile, scrappy adversaries who commanded grudging respect. Coyotes are emblematic of wide open spaces. Now increasingly too familiar as suburban scavengers or even urban “dumpster divers,” coyotes evolved their versatile habits on a wild continent where wolves were “top dog.” With the demise of wolves, their much larger cousins, coyotes have expanded their range and now are common from the Arctic to Costa Rica.
Expect to see coyotes anywhere on Sylvan Dale’s 5 square miles of diverse habitats, but they are especially “watchable” right on the Home Pastures. This year there were at least two dens within the view from The Hilltop, in the rough, brushy country just east of the canal. Both parents help to raise the pups, bring home a feast of cottontails, prairie dogs, and mice as well as carrion. They probably would harvest Susan’s chickens as well, except for some industrial grade fencing and the vigilance of their fearless, distant cousin, Maggie (the Wonder Dog).
Every night there are singing contests between the north and south ends of the pastures. Just now they prefer to perform about 3 AM, trailing grown-up calls followed by ragged choruses of youngsters’ yips.
Coyotes are no threat to people or livestock and like other native wildlife at Sylvan Dale, they have a comfortable refuge here, prospering in natural landscapes protected from future development by perpetual conservation easements.
David M. Armstrong
Resident Naturalist, SDR
Author Rocky Mountain Mammals