Coyotes (Canis latrans) are adaptive and opportunistic relatives of our domestic dogs. Also called prairie wolves or brush wolves, coyotes dig ground squirrels and gophers from their burrows, catch mice, voles, rabbits and grasshoppers, and eat carrion or deer killed by mountain lions. They will also eat fruits and berries. Although they prefer open spaces, coyotes can be found in many different environments, including urban areas.
Although they are nocturnal, we frequently see coyotes hunting and moving about during daylight hours. It is fascinating to watch a coyote wander about in a field searching for small mammals. When it smells/hears a gopher or ground squirrel in its burrow, a coyote will rapidly dig after its prey. Even more interesting is watching a coyote “at point” over a small vole or mouse. It will stand perfectly still then pounce. Usually we see only one or two coyotes together when hunting small mammals.
Coyotes can run up to 45 mph. Although they have a reputation for hunting in packs, coyotes rarely do so. More frequently they hunt in relays which enables them to bring down a rabbit or larger mammal.
Yesterday Leonard and I were returning from a veterinary call (Modoc County CA). We saw a coyote hunting in a field. I grabbed my camera and headed off across a feed lot to a bluff overlooking the field. The cows scattered as I rushed through them and disturbed their breakfast. The coyote did not see me approach and continued to hunt while I photographed him (her?). I continued to move closer and eventually the coyote saw me. Today’s pictures are of him hunting and when he first realized I was there. Tomorrow. . . more coyote pictures and more of the story. . .