Only about 5 percent of mammal species are truly monogamous. Among members of the canine family, most— including foxes, wolves, and jackals— form strong pair bonds, but are often observed “cheating” on the side. Not so with the coyote. It is one of the only mammal species known to form truly faithful, monogamous pair bonds that last a lifetime.
Photo courtesy of For Fox Sake Wildlife Rescue
Coyotes normally find a mate in late adolescence, when youngsters first set out on their own away from their parents. Once mated, the pair will work side by side to raise their young each year, and may raise as many as ten litters in their lifetime together.
Just like humans, coyotes grieve for their lost mates and may never recover from the loss. A widowed coyote with pups is very unlikely to be able to raise the pups alone. Without a partner to help defend the home, the widowed coyote may lose its den, kills, and hunting grounds to rivals. They are condemned to live a life alone, as an adult coyote will rarely be able to find a new mate.
Please be kind to your wild neighbors. They have loved ones who need them!
In the past week, I’ve seen a coyote hunting in our neighbor’s field three different times. The first two, it moved out of range before I could get my camera. But this morning, he or she was a little more obliging, leisurely nosing around in the tall grass, close enough for me to get a shot. I turned off the sausage, grabbed my camera, and hoped it wouldn’t get spooked and run. Sorry for the poor picture quality, but these are the best I could do with my “point-and-shoot” camera.
In more populated areas, coyotes avoid interaction with people by hunting at night. In our rural area, they are more brazen and hunt during the day, too. They are opportunistic feeders with a varied diet, which includes scavenging the large kills of other animals. In the Blue Ridge, they hunt rabbits, foxes, mice, beavers, all kinds of fruits and berries, and I suspect even the salamanders in our neighbor’s pond.
It’s possible with all the recent sightings that there’s a den nearby. If that’s true and there are pups to feed, this coyote will be out hunting again. With any luck, I can sneak up on it and get a closer shot. Maybe a better option would be to attach my BirdCam to a tree and see what activity it captures. Stay tuned!