Fun Facts about Coyotes Credit to Lila Ashenbrenner, Photos: (L-R) Lila Ashenbrenner & Doreen Loofburrow,
We all enjoy seeing the wildlife at The Reserve when we are out golfing! This time of the year we start thinking when we will see the pups and how many there will be! Coyotes are amazing animals. Coyotes are formidable in the field where they enjoy keen vision and a strong sense of smell. They can run up to 43 mph, control how many pups they have in a litter based on food availability. Coyotes form strong family groups. In spring, females den and give birth to litters of three to twelve pups. There are 19 subspecies of coyotes that live in every state except for Hawaii, and they can even mate with wolves and dogs.
Coyotes are by far the most vocal wild mammals in North America. Researchers have identified 11 different vocalizations: growl, huff, woof, bark, bark-howl, lone howl, group yip-howl, whine, group howl, greeting songs, yelps. They use these vocalizations to communicate with others in their family group or pack and communicate territory to animals outside the pack. A pair of coyotes can easily sound like a larger group due to the variety of vocalizations.
A coyote’s sense of hearing is pretty amazing. The shape of their ears is meant to capture even the smallest of movement. They can hear up to a quarter mile away. They have powerful night vision from the abundance of rod receptors in their eyes. Coyotes also have a mirror beneath their retinas called a tapetum lucidum. It reflects the observed light twice, giving the eye a better chance of seeing even in low-light conditions.
Often mistaken for dogs, they can reach anywhere from 15 to 46 pounds. A good way to differentiate them from a domesticated furry friend is to watch the tail; a coyote's is bushy and held downward, even when running. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to a coyote howl at night, you might notice an abundance of answering calls and think “Woah, that’s a huge coyote pack.” More likely what you’re hearing is a coyote marking off its territory to other coyotes, who are answering the call and establishing their own boundaries. Even if a coyote is part of a larger pack, they will usually choose to hunt alone or in pairs.
Coyotes are opportunistic hunters and will eat whatever is available. In the summer and fall months, coyotes typically chow down on small mammals, rodents, berries, and vegetables. However, when the colder winter months settle in, coyotes will sometimes form hunting packs to take down larger prey when smaller prey isn’t available.
Typical hunting coyotes range in pack size from a single coyote to two individuals. They rarely form larger packs while hunting unless they plan to take down large prey like a deer.
Like many animals, coyotes have a winter and summer coat which helps them stay warm and cool, respectively. Coyotes also actively hunt and forage in the winter months instead of hibernating or going into a temporary torpor.
When picking a den location, coyotes will often find a hollow between rocks or build a burrow in the soil. When they decide to go the burrow route, they’ll often find abandoned fox or badger burrows and expand on those instead of making their own.
The two most distinct sounds a coyote can make are barks and howls. Howls seem to be more for communicating information to other pack members, or to warn outsider coyotes not to enter a pack’s territory. Barks and yips seem to be more related to assessing how far away other pack members are or to attract the attention of other pack members. If you live near coyotes, you may notice an increase in their vocals between late January to March. This is because it is mating season. Although it lasts for about 3 months, female coyotes are only in heat for 2 to 5 days.
Coyotes have a strong family structure where the male and female both help in raising the young. Coyotes mate for life and are monogamous. In a 2012 study of 18 litters of coyotes, researchers discovered that once they find a mate, a coyote couple is in it for the long haul. This remains true regardless of the number of other potential mates in the area. If the male dies, the female coyote will likely leave the area immediately or soon after any pups are independent.
The pregnant female will eventually settle into a den and after a 2-month gestation period, both parents help to raise the offspring by providing food, and pups are weaned and begin to venture out of the den after about 35 days. Pups remain with their parents over the next few months, but they grow up fast and must eventually strike out on their own before the next generation is born. Some of the offspring might remain to help raise the next batch of younger siblings, but most will disperse in an attempt to find their own territory and mates.
Fun Facts about the Eagles We See
Credit to Lila Ashenbrenner. Photos from Google.
We all enjoy watching and listening to our Reserve Bald Eagles. Here is a little information about these amazing birds!
The name comes from an old English word from centuries ago: Piebald, which is defined as “having irregular patches of two colors, typically black and white.” We know they are not bald!
Their average life span in the wild is 20 years, but the oldest recorded birdwas 38! Captive individuals have been known to live longer, with one eagle almost reaching the age of 50.
Eagle pairs typically bond for life. When breeding season arrives each year, the same pair meet, build (or reuse) a nest, and raise up to three young. Both eagles help raise the babies, with each sitting on eggs, and hunting and providing food for the young.
The concern for their young is so strong that they walk around the nest by folding their talons in so that they won’t accidentally hurt the young birds. When Bald Eagles are not breeding, they tend to be solitary, self-reliant, and independent.
A Bald Eagle’s typical wingspan is between 5 ft 11 in (1.8m) and 7 ft 7 in (2.3 m). Eagles only weigh around 10 pounds and are 3 feet long! Believe it or not, Bald Eagles make the most massive tree nests ever recorded for any animal species! The largest nest documented was 9.5 feet in diameter, 20 feet deep, and weighed almost 3 tons!
The average nest is about 4 to 5 feet in diameter and 2 to 4 feet deep. Each year, the adult breeding pairs add to the previous year’s nest, typically adding about 1-2 feet of new material. Eagle nests usually don’t last past five years because they collapse from their immense weight in the tree.
Bald Eagles are not that selective about which type of tree they build their nest in, as long as the location is open, has excellent visibility, is over 66 feet high (20 meters), and is near food.
Male and female eagles make a very good parenting tandem. The males’ job is to guarantee that there’s food in their nests, while the female roosts at their nest for 35 days to keep their eggs warm.
Once an egg hatches, the baby eagle will be confined to the nest anywhere between 8 to 14 weeks before fledging (taking their first flight). But even once they can fly, the parents will continue bringing thejuveniles food and providing protection for another six weeks! During this time, they continue to develop their flying and hunting skills before heading off on their own.
Juvenile eagles have a brown head that turns white between 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 years of age
Studies have found that an eagle’s diet consists of approximately 56% fish, 28% birds (mostly waterbirds such as ducks), 14% mammals, and 2% other prey.
Speed: When diving for their prey, they reach speeds between 75 – 100 miles per hour. They can fly as high as 15,000 feet. They can fly up to 100 MPH!
Talons: Their talons are incredibly strong, and their estimated gripping power is TEN times greater than a human. Bald Eagles can fly with fish at least equal to their weight. When their prey is too heavy to fly with, it’s not uncommon to see an eagle dragging it through the water to find a place that is safe to eat.
On average the male bald eagle weighs 25% less than females!
Eagles also have a third transparent eyelid called the nictitating membrane. This extra eyelid is hinged at the inner side of the eye and sweeps horizontally across the cornea. The nictitating membrane is largely transparent, and it helps keep the eye moist and clean while guarding it from wind, dust, and hazards. Rather than do their own fishing, Bald Eagles often go after other creatures’ catches. For example, they will sometimes harass a hunting Osprey until the smaller raptor drops its prey in midair, where the eagle swoops it up. A Bald Eagle may even snatch a fish directly out of an Osprey’s talons!
And you might be lucky enough to witness the other kind of eagle in the wild!