Friday, May 25, 2007

The Baby Coyotes

We'd been having snow showers for a day or two, but on Wednesday afternoon, the snow flakes became bigger and it began accumulating. We woke Thursday to a snow covered wonderland.

I took time to capture some of the beauty of the snow covered mountains, but my primary destination was the coyote den. This was my last morning here. I wondered if the pups would show up better against the snow.

When I got to the parking lot, all I could see were the elk in the distance in the willow thickets lining the river. But I knew to wait patiently. Before too long, I saw a coyote moving fast. He was coming my way, but I was not set up. Although I quickly got my big tripod and lens out, that photo opportunity was gone before I was set up. I could tell he was out hunting for breakfast. I wondered how long it would be before he or one of the other coyotes came back to the den. While you could see the small brown dome above the snow around it, it looked quiet and deserted. I wondered how long I would have to wait to see the activity around the den. I waited. I talked to people who stopped in the parking lot. One had seen the coyotes down the valley. She waited for a while, but gave up and went on. I talked to the docent about the big horn sheep that had been seen around the lakes. I waited . . . Patience IS sometimes rewarded. I saw the coyote returning. It was interesting to see the magpies and ravens start showing up around the den even before the coyote was close. The coyote headed straight for the den. Right before it got to the den, I saw it regurgitate - I'd been expecting that. Even though the birds tried to hang around to get a morsel from this feeding, the coyotes kept chasing them away.

The puppies did not come out until the coyote was right in front of the den. However, you could tell by their reaction and behavior that he had brought them food. No nursing behavior, so this must have been one of the male adults.

The puppies were happy to be outside. They romped around in the snow and tried to play with the adult who was also carefully standing watch.

It wasn't long before one of the other adults showed up.

The puppies clustered around mom to nurse.

While these are not competition quality shots, even with my 300-800m lens and a 2X teleconverter, this family is too far away to get what I call great shots. Each of these has been cropped so that the den and family are more prominent in the frame.

But even if the image quality is not what I would prefer, I'm still proud of these shots. They tell the story of a morning at the den. Before this trip I had never seen coyote puppies, much less seen the inner workings of a coyote family group.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time observing this coyote family. I hope you enjoy seeing these intimate family shots.


Chris said...

They are even cuter in snow!

Mary Ann Melton said...

Then den is still hard to see when the coyotes are not there and the puppies are hidden in the den. But they are SO much easier to spot when the ground is white and they stand out from their environment.

Glad you have enjoyed the photos too!