photo by Jacques Tournel
MAKING CHOICES IN THE NEW YEAR 2016 ~
I wish to share with you a short video that an observant person placed on You tube of two coyote mates assisting each other to relieve their bodies of ticks.
I have been hesitant to share this wonderful video with you, because it is a public you tube, and you may notice a few violent videos along the side of this one … from a perspective very different from the one I am sharing with you. But I have finally decided to share. I think that it gives us this opportunity to understand that how we view another living being…is how we then treat them. It shows the contrast.
SO WE HAVE CHOICES …AND WHAT WILL YOUR’S BE FOR THIS COMING YEAR?
These are a few words that the person shared regarding his observation of Coyote intimacy and caring:
“I’ve been told that grooming is hierarchical in coyote families. Not so! Here you have two buddies of equal stature taking turns in grooming and taking off ticks. I’ve seen mothers groom yearlings, I’ve seen mothers groom mates, I’ve seen males groom youngsters and mates, and I’ve seen youngsters groom each others and their parents. So it’s not about hierarchy. It’s about caring for one another, removing unhealthy ticks and about closeness. You can see from the length of the video that this isn’t a perfunctory groom for the purpose of confirming rank. These guys are really taking care of each other. “
Here is the link ~ How do you choose to see?
Coyotes Remove Ticks From Each Other
I have exciting news that I wish to share with you ~
The publication of my new book I Am Coyote has finally arrived, and it will be available in mid-October of this year. I welcome you to seek it out on Amazon or your local book stores, and share it with your local libraries and schools and give as gifts to one another.
My book has evolved out of the time I have shared with our community members and the many questions asked of me, as well as the need I have observed in helping our people to understand the lives of these reclusive, amazing wild beings. I have chosen to write it as a story; a story following one young female Coyote and her mate in their journey through life. Follow her and her mate and get to know who Coyote IS through her eyes.
Distinguished fellow scientist and Author of Beyond Words, Carl Safina, commented on my book: “This is not a book about “a species of animal” and what “it” does. Geri Vistein takes us so deep into Coyote’s skin and behind the eyes and nose that she reveals for us the intricacies and perceptions of creatures who lead lives among us. This is the right perspective for understanding who we are here with on Earth. Vistein has chosen one of the absolutely most wondrous fellow-creatures in America to make our introduction.”
photo by Bill Meikle
DO YOU SEE THE COYOTE PUP?
In this rare photo of a coyote pup you get to see who is keeping Coyote parents very busy at this time of the year. First of all, they are very protective of their little ones ~ hiding them from our view, carefully watching over them and protecting them from all forms of danger at this vulnerable time of their lives.
Coyote parents need to hunt day and night to feed their fast growing pups, and will often risk placing themselves in danger’s way to do so. Then teaching them how to hunt comes later …starting with grasshoppers and moving up .
AH….. BUT THE FUN PART IS THE SINGING! Coyote puppies from early on love to mimic their parent’s song and delight in doing so. To give you an idea of what we cannot experience directly watch this short video in which a 20 day old Malamute – Huskey puppy joins in the song.
This wonderful photo by Debbie DiCarlo titled “Howling Lesson” depicts young Coyote pups talent for song, as they join their mother in the happy event.
We shall be hearing more of Coyote’s song now that Spring will soon be here….and the pups will soon be born. So I wish to share a piece written by Brian Mitchell, PhD, Adjunct professor at the University of Vermont ~ Opening a window ever a little bit more to the Wonder of this complex and amazing carnivore we share our landscape of Maine with.
“As the sunset colors fade from purple to black, the forest is dimly illuminated by a first quarter moon. An eerie sound breaks the calm. It is not the long, low, slow howling of wolves that can be heard further north, but the group yip-howl of coyotes: short howls that often rise and fall in pitch, punctuated with staccato yips, yaps, and barks.
When people hear coyote howls, they often mistakenly assume that they’re hearing a large pack of animals, all raising their voices at once. But this is an auditory illusion called the “beau geste” effect. Because of the variety of sounds produced by each coyote, and the way sound is distorted as it passes through the environment, two of these tricksters can sound like seven or eight animals.
Group yip-howls are produced by a mated and territorial pair of “alpha” coyotes, with the male howling while the female intersperses her yips, barks, and short howls. “Beta” coyotes (the children of the alpha pair from previous years and current year pups may join in if they are nearby, or respond with howls of their own. And once one group of coyotes starts howling, chances are that any other alpha pairs nearby will respond in kind, with chorus after chorus of group yip-howls rippling across the miles.
I spent seven years studying coyote vocal communication during my dissertation research at the University of California, Berkeley. While eastern coyotes are a larger and distinct subspecies from the western coyotes that I worked with, the basic findings of my research and the work done by others applies to all coyotes.
Coyotes have sometimes been called “song dogs,” and their long distance songs come in two basic types.
The first, the group yip-howl, is thought to have the dual purpose of promoting bonding within the family group while also serving as a territorial display. In other words, the coyotes are saying “we’re a happy family, and we own this turf so you better keep out.” In a sense, the group howls create an auditory fence around a territory, supplementing the physical scent marks left by the group.
Coyotes will also howl and bark separately. This second type of song is virtually always an indication of disturbance or agitation, and in my experience, the higher the proportion of howls, the more agitated the coyote is. Coyotes will howl and bark at neighbors who intrude on their territory, and at dogs, people, and other large animals that they perceive as a potential threat.
My research documented that coyote barks and howls are individually specific. Much like we can tell people apart by their voices, there is enough information in coyote vocalizations for me to tell individuals apart. If, as I suspect, coyotes can distinguish each other by their song, it would not be analogous to the animals constantly shouting their own names; it would be more akin to our ability to recognize Marlon Brando because of the distinctive timbre and cadence of his voice.
Characteristics including dominant pitch, duration, how quickly howls rise and fall in pitch, and tendency to “warble” while howling all distinguish one coyote from another. For howls, this individual distinctiveness does not fade with distance. I was able to record and identify individual coyotes over a distance of greater than one mile. Given their keen hearing, it is likely coyotes can discern individual howls at much greater distances —three miles or more on a calm night.
Barks, on the other hand, degrade quickly over distance, with the higher frequencies fading first. This makes it theoretically possible for coyotes familiar with an individual (say, a mate or family group member) to determine roughly how far away that individual is, based on the proportion of high frequencies in the barks.
Imagine a scenario where a lone coyote is patrolling the territory boundary and comes across an intruder. He starts barking and howling, and his mate and beta children come running to the right place because his howls indicate how agitated he is, and his barks allow his family to pinpoint the direction and distance to his location.
Although I was not able to prove that coyotes can do these tasks, the information needed is present in their calls and there are strong evolutionary advantages to learning how to use it. We still have much to learn about coyote vocal communication. Even after years of studying coyote calls, I was barely able to scratch the surface. These tricksters hold their secrets tightly.”
photo by Jerry Mercier
What is the Coyote in this photo feeling….does she feel…..does she feel like us….?
From time to time in my work as a biologist, certain members of the community have some difficulty accepting the reality that Coyotes share with us the common journey through life on this planet….that they experience the pain, grief, loss, suffering that we do….and ALSO the fun, the joy, the companionship, the joy of life that we do.
I want to encourage you to view the outstanding documentary “When the Mountains Tremble” If you have Netflix, you can get through them. Watch the film first, then watch it again with the director’s commentary. The film is about the Native people of Guatamala and the atrocities heaped on them for the past 500 years….since the Spanish invaded central America. The film focuses on what has been going on in the second half of the last century.
As I watched the film, as a biologist, I could not but help think that what these descendants of the Mayans were enduring were what Coyote contnues to endure. ….fleeing their homes and hiding in the forests…babies on mothers’ backs, traveling only at night to meet for fear of being rounded up and tortured, trying to hold onto their culture and their language at impossible odds.
But the film also shows the indomitable spirit of the Guatamalan Native peoples, the strong bonds that they continue to share with each other, and their courage and undaunting efforts to survive as a people. I say Coyote desires and acts in the same manner….we have seen this repeatedly through our science.
If you wish to get more of a sense of Coyote’s life here in Maine, and in many places in north America…..since the Europeans invaded this land….watch this documentary. If you have a difficult time accepting this comparison, please ask yourself … WHY?
photo by Jerry Mercier
Songs my Mother taught me by Anton Dvorsak
I am attaching a link here with this beautiful, stirring gypsy music of this great composer
Note: the language on the screen is very different…it is not English
But we all understand the Music
Coyote parents teach their tiny pups to make music also
Their language is different from ours….
But can we learn to understand their music?