Today’s Snapshot (Plus Video): Dueling Coyotes

So, I went on a loooong bike ride this weekend to get me some zen time to balance out the disheartening encounter I had earlier in the week with an irate vehicle passenger who I was only able to discourage from attempting to kick my ass by demonstrating the pepper spray and a stungun I carry on my commutes specifically in case  of such ridiculous encounters with mad dogs and motorists. Mostly motorists.

Way too early Saturday I rolled out from Silver Lake through downtown across the 6th Street Viaduct and then pedaled Whittier Boulevard out to the San Gabriel River whose bikeway took me down to Seal Beach. From there I headed across Long Beach to the Los Angeles River and back into downtown and home. Had lunch at Blue Star, and got home before the high heat. All was right in my world again.

And made even better by a unique coyote encounter I had early on. It was on the San Gabriel River Bikeway halfway between Washington Boulevard and Slauson Avenue in Pico Rivera where for whatever reason my eyes were drawn to some fresh overgrowth about a third of the way out from the bank. Among it was two coyotes. After a couple minutes observing them it became pretty clear that I was witnessing something remarkable — not two siblings frolicking in the river’s dry bed or competitively posturing over a fresh kill, but something entirely dire: a mother coyote on the defensive in protection of her unseen pups from a rogue male determined to turn them into a snack. Total life or death stuff, that one would equate seeing play out on the plains of a far less tame west, not out on the bed of a channelized river bracketed by densely urbanized populations.

As my better cam was mounted to the handlebars and timelapsing the ride, my back-up crapcam wasn’t able to get a decent shot of the dance that ensued with the smaller, bobbing-and-weaving¬† male attempting time and time again to draw the larger female either to attack or at least far enough away from her makeshift den so that he could do an end-run and grab a newborn to go. But momma was having none of it. She’d hold her ground until the male sauntered in to close then she’d lunge at him head down jaws agape and tail between her legs, doing juuuuust enough to drive him back to a minimum safe distance where he’d linger momentarily before moving in again.

Finally I had to unclamp my good digicam and with it, I got this still of a certain lull in the action where momma (the arrow points to her ear) is almost unseen laying down and the male’s contemplating his next move:

coyotes2(click pic to go big)

After the jump is a video clip of some of the action as I watched it with another cyclist who stopped to take it all in.

Where was this taken? It was taken here.


Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
Inter Here

The male would wander away then come back and try again. In the end, I can only hope the mom’s stamina is stronger than the male’s patience and hunger will move him onward in search of less obstructed prey. But if the male can wait her out, eventually mom’s going to have to go in search of her own food and leave her offspring alone. The chirping you hear are nearby ground squirrels sounding the alarm that predators are in the area. And yeah… you’ll hear me refer to the pups as “cubs” at one point. Jeff Corwin, I’m not. Nor his cameraman. But I try.


4 thoughts on “Today’s Snapshot (Plus Video): Dueling Coyotes”

  1. Absolutely awesome! The interplay between our animal heritage and our city energy is magnetic. The fight to survive and protect is so primal. I heard the coyotes singing last night in my canyon and it was magic. Thanks for sharing/recording/being present for this rare moment.

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