Coyotl

Continuing with the photogenic coyote from the last two days. . .

Once the coyote (Canis latrans) reached the rocks and junipers near me, he stopped and waited while I continued to photograph him. He then walked ahead and waited while I followed and took pictures, only moving on when I got to within twenty or thirty feet of him. This continued for about ten minutes. Finally I decided Leonard had waited in the car long enough and headed back. The coyote watched me until I was out of sight. I could only imagine that he was wondering why his “playmate” no longer wanted to follow him.

I always thought that coyote was a Spanish word. It is but derives from the Aztec. The coyote is native to the New World. The Aztecs word for this canine was coyotl. They had a god called Coyotlinauatl , whom to honor they dressed in coyote skins and held fiestas. The Aztec Moon Goddess was named Coyolxauhqui, perhaps because the coyotl bayed at the moon. Another important figure in Aztec lore was Huehuecoyotl, Old Coyote, a mischief-maker. In addition, several other figures in Aztec mythology and some ancient Aztec towns are named after the coyote. The coyote was prominent in Aztec civilization.

When the Spanish conquered the Aztecs they adopted the word coyotl and eventually the final “l” was changed to an “e”.  Anglo-American discoverers of the coyote called it a prairie wolf. By the early 1800s, English speakers were adopting the Spanish/Mexican word, coyote. However, the etymological derivation of coyote is Aztec.

I love to listen to coyotes sing at night – or during the daylight hours. The high-pitched barking and wailing of a single coyote can sound like several animals. To me, it is always a serenade, no matter if it is a single animal or many calling back and forth between the buttes surrounding out house.

These two pictures were taken amid the rocks and junipers of southwestern Modoc County CA.

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One Response to Coyotl

  1. Pingback: Wandering Coyote | The Nature Niche

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