Sunday, April 02, 2006

Two-Coyote Morning

Always a good idea to look outside before letting the dogs (or chickens) into the yard. Sure enough, there was a coyote on the rocks just to the north of our property fence. Just ambling through, checking to see if she could find any mice in the rockpile. Sniffing along, wandering through the grass, after several minutes she disappeared down into a nearby gully.

Finally I let the dogs out, then turned the chickens loose into their yard. The dogs did find a rabbit, who made a wrong turn but managed to get through the fence after a brief but merry chase. Then a second coyote wandered down the drive along the east fence, exciting the dogs to new levels of enthusiasm and making me wonder whether the fence would hold them. Unperturbed, the coyote moseyed past, secure in the artificial distance the fence added to the 20 feet that separated him from the dogs. Although he too soon disappeared over the immediate horizon, the dogs remembered him for a long time, staring off in the direction of his departure.

Coyotes doubtless visit here more often than we actually see them, although one morning we woke to see a couple about 10 feet from the front door, eyeing the chickens and drooling. They slipped through the fence, no problem, when the dogs went out—but that was too close for comfort!

One morning two weeks ago, I saw the coyote walking by along the same fenceline. She checked the deep grass by the drive, froze, pounced, then came up with a mouse that she downed in one gulp. Breakfast? No, only a snack. She continued on across the neighbor’s back lot, circling and sniffing, then back to our fence, where she found another rodent. More of a two-bite size, it took her a few seconds more than the first. The magpies closed in, but she left them nothing.

I once thought getting to observe an act of predation would be extremely rare, but it is merely unusual.

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