Friday, May 16, 2014

Great Horned Owl and a White Coyote: So Much Excitement for a City!

The nights are getting a little balmy with the wind blowing through the tops of the newly leaved trees, making that grass skirts dancing sound that tickles the eardrum. I've been walking the dog more and more, a few miles a day and seeing so many creatures and such loveliness all around, like baltimore orioles, the returning wrens, the bright yellow gold finches that could be mistaken for someone's parakeet. But last night and yeah, the night before that topped it for me. I'll start with the night before.  We were on the road, Morris, loping along beside me, and I saw movement in the woods at the top of the trees. Well, I've heard hoo, hoo-hoo, HOO, HOO since January or Februrary all over the woods but haven't seen that owl yet, but there he or she was, having flown from a tall tree in the woods to a tree closer to the road and looking still and Buddhaesque up there, unflinching in its meditation and HUGE. I have never seen an owl that was that big. The size of five month old baby. It was bulky and tall. Very tall. And I watched and watched wondering why I was watching it so much, as if it would communicate something wise to me, or fly around animated with Prokofiev in the background like in a Disney movie. Instead it stayed so still and stone-like and stopped its hooing completely. I do hope there's another one out there but we believe (My sister and I) that there's only one because the Hoos seem to come from only one. But perhaps, in the best of worlds, there are two and there was nest and there will be more. So this story ends, when I decided that it would remain still for a very long time and I ran off to my sister's house to get her to come see, but she wasn't home, and when I returned to that spot, that bird had flown.

To top that off, Oh my god!, last night I was walking Morris up the road and heard our little Bella barking and barking and her Mom, Dina bringing her in and slamming the door. Bella is a little rug dog but she is full of spunk. There in the middle of the road stood a blond coyote, smaller than the one I had seen before, much smaller -- could it be a cub? It was maybe 35-40 lbs and scrawny, not like the heavy one I saw last winter. It was in very middle of the road and stood its ground, looking at me and Morris (a 75 lb lab-mix). I actually got unnerved and blew my whistle that's on my keychain but it didn't flinch, it just looked. So I turned around and headed back down the road toward my house and in a deep voice I said, Get, Get, and pulled Morris, talking in a tough way to him, " Come on! Get!" as if I wasn't scared but I was, not really knowing why. Coyotes don't run after people unless you're running and you look small and vulnerable (Or so I think after having read a bit).  I'm not big but I know I was giving a vibe that I was shaken, my heart doing that boom boom against my chest ; and I was walking at a good clip, turning every minute to see that slender, strange moving , moving like a ghost, wavering a little, like something from a heat wave, slippery -- is that my imagination or do they move with grace, everything bending this way and that, like they don't any brittle bone?.  Anyway, this white one was easy to see in the dark and he followed us home, keeping a distance of perhaps 100 feet (I am not known for my measurement savy). He or she followed us all the way and went down my neighbor's drive.  I love to see the coyotes but I have so much fear inside from something in my past, something having to do with people, not coyotes. I want to confront that, and get better about being near -- not too near -- the coyote. I want to walk on the same street with confidence, without my heart pounding.  But for now, I will have to chant to myself, coyotes do not hurt people, coyotes do no harm. And keep Morris from growing overly confident.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Some Coyote Facts

Coyotes come in different colors. Blonde, brown, grey, mixed.

Coyotes travel around 2 miles at night. (update, read somewhere else they can travel 50 miles).

Coyotes hunt mainly at night.

Coyotes fear large dogs and people (under normal wild conditions).

Coyotes eat almost anything when hungry enough -- garbage, fruit, cats, small dogs.

Coyotes like to eat mice, rabbits, and squirrels in the wild.

Books I'm Reading for my Neighbor Coyotes in Western Mass

Coyote: Seeking the Hunter in Our Midst by Catherine Reid.
Suburban Howls: Tracking the Eastern Coyote in Urban Massachusetts by Jonathan G. Way.
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Eastern Coyotes Come to Town

For several weeks there's been some neighborhood commotion over the coyotes who have made their presence known. One woman spotted a single coyote coming out of the woods while she was walking and said to me, "I saw this dog that had the body of a fox but the head of a wolf and it was big as your dog(a lab mix). It poked its head out of the woods as I passed on the road. It was beautiful." Another woman was very happy to see it after she had heard so many reports of its existence. She finally saw it one morning chasing a rabbit through her yard. Many of us, if we hadn't seen one by December 30th were disappointed as if we weren't among the elite. We would pass each other on the road and the question would inevitablly rise from one of us "Have you seen the coyote"? I finally saw one, the one we're calling "the blonde one" while walking my dog quite late, around 11 pm. It was a very large dog, and a dirty yellow white. It hung around the snow banks and did a lot of weaving along the road as if trying to dodge its own shadow. It kept far enough away so I was comfortable but it was bit unnerving. I feel awe in the presence of the wild. I'd never been that close to a truly wild animal not in a cage except for a bear once in California. I love sharing my neighborhood with wildlife but I worry: Will people keep them safe and themselves, too. Will they be tempted to feed them and create problems such as coyotes becoming agressive around food? Will they keep their cats in, especially at night? I hope I'll see them again. I am pretty certain that I will because they'll have some pups soon. There's just enough woods here for them and for that we're fortunate.