Cascadia Wildlife Blog
News from the Wolverine Tracking Project and more
WOLVERINE TRACKING PROJECT FINDINGS
Coyotes are frequently show up in our camera survey, and this month we want to feature this amazing animal! Native to North America, historically they used to live in the open plains and mostly arid regions in the west. Their range has since expanded into desert, forest, alpine, and even tropical areas due to their highly adaptable nature. Known by many names, they were once described as "prairie wolves" and were also called "song dogs", due to their impressive howling and vocalizations. There is nothing quite like the sound of pack of coyotes in the night!
This lone coyote pays a visit to this site in the woods. Coyotes have appeared at most of the camera survey locations this season, as they commonly have in past years.
Highly social, coyotes pair bond with mates and form family packs, but can also be solitary. Success in hunting large prey, which can bring great rewards, depends upon cooperation within a group. Coyotes are primarily carnivores, eating prey both large and small of whatever food type is available in their habitat. They also eat a wide variety other food including berries, other fruit, grasses, grains, nuts and beans. Given the opportunity, they will also scavenge on kills from other predators like wolves and cougars.
A pair of coyotes is seen exploring around another camera site. They are likely a male and female that have formed a bond through mating and will stay together for the rest of their lives.
Coyotes make a huge variety of sounds, which can be calls for alarm, greeting, or contact howls between individuals or groups. Their yips, growls, barks, yelps, huffs, whines, and well-known howls or "greeting song" are all important ways of communicating to each other within a pack and to others packs in the area.
Caught on camera licking their chops! Maybe they are thinking about the next delicious meal they will find.
Coyotes are mesopredators, or mid-ranking predators, of the food web. Usually medium sized animals, other mesopredators in this region include bobcats, foxes, raccoons, and skunks. Apex predators, or top predators, are wolves and cougars, which outcompete these smaller species. Coyotes may visit an unguarded kill site from one of them, but they must be very careful careful about stealing food and skillful at getting away!
One travels through a field of lush springtime grass in a more open area of the mountain.
Territorial behaviors are often seen on camera, from rubbing and rolling around on the ground, to urinating and defecating. Coyote scat is very commonly found on trails and roads in the forest. This sign they leave not only tells others of their kind they have been there, it can also be a warning to other animals as well.
These two are having quite a time rolling around in a scent was placed in the area! This is a normal part of their territory marking behavior. Their keen sense of smell is quite amazing!
During denning season, coyotes may find an old burrow made by another animal, use a hollowed out tree stump, or dig their own in a choice location. Dens are only used to give birth and rear their young in and then are abandoned when the pups are old enough. If it proves to be a safe location, it may be used year after year by the same coyotes.
Sunshine lights up this coyote checking out something on the ground.
They can travel up to 3-10 miles a day and their territory can vary from 0.15 to 24 square miles, which often depends on food abundance, number of den sites, and the presence of other species they compete with. Even though they are naturally diurnal, or active during the day, they are can also become more active at dusk and dawn or night, especially in urban areas in order to avoid people. In the forest, they may be active at night as well during different seasons in order to catch certain prey.
Some days, curiosity gets the best of you and you fall into a hole. Luckily, this one is typical for their kind- strong and adaptable- and they climb right back out!
Coyotes never fail to inform and entertain us in the camera surveys. As the summer season starts to change into fall, we continue to eagerly await each set of photos to see what these animals are up to on Mt. Hood!