Something adorable for you.

Hello all!

First off, I’d like to thank you all for the wonderful comments left on my last post. It’s  fantastic to get such hearty support from so many different corners. I’m also grateful to have a few new followers. Hello and welcome, new folk! Please sit down and make yourself comfortable.

As promised, Erin will be posting about her new book soon. She’s a bit busy with some other projects at present, so while we wait I offer you these baby coyotes to keep you happy. Thanks to Peggy Moon Collins for the ridiculously awesome photo.
Baby Coyotes!

You may also want to entertain yourself with this curious article on the ecology of stinging nettles, one of my favorite urban plants.

Some real small talk: Boston’s weather is continuing to be very strange, oscillating freely between mornings of frostbite advisories and afternoons that are foggy and 65 degrees. This doesn’t happen in the span of one day – that would be far too weird – but there are only a few dozen hours separating the two extremes. Hello, climate change. Can you please keep this place nice and cold so that I can go ice skating in somebody’s backyard?

Coyote: the lithe, silent, and long-nosed huter

Here’s a wonderful little post from Coyote Yipps on the hunting habits of the coyote. It illustrates nicely the manner in which they jam their snouts into the earth (at, for example, 2:21) whilst attempting to root out rodents. (I never cease to be impressed by the strong schnozes of canines. I once met a dog, a wonderful border collie named Syd, who played basketball voraciously, using her nose to steal the ball from any human antagonist. I was always worried, but after seeing film of foxes, wolves, and now coyotes thrusting their faces into the earth, I can see that Syd knew that her lovely face was in no danger.)

Coyote Yipps

Note how gingerly this coyote initially pursues his prey in this video. He begins by listening for little scurrying sounds of voles in their vast tunnel network underground — he does not want to alert them to his presence. So he tiptoes around the spot, carefully positions himself and waits — all the while listening intently. He’s very smart about what he is doing: clever and shrewd.

The hunt then shifts from a mental strategizing to a more physical one — there is a pounce/punch with nose and forepaws, followed by digging, and then another punch of the forepaws, followed by more digging. Punching serves to force some activity below the surface — if the coyote is able to collapse a tunnel or scare the vole, the vole might move so that the coyote will either see or hear it. His last recourse is to stick his nose in a…

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Coyote comes to town

I am happily returned to Boston. While I dearly miss my friends and family out west, it has been wonderful to settle back into my life here. My days have been filled with naps, delicious food cooked by Matt, and walks filled with snow and one lone, charming coyote, relaxing in an overgrown lot a few blocks away from our house.

I am very familiar with the calls of these animals – their yipping, whooping, siren sounds have kept me awake and rapt through long nights on New England farmlands. However, I’d never actually seen one, and was quite shocked and fascinated when I did. The discovery has led me to consider what a prime habitat this corner of Boston offers – there are wooded lots, sumptuous dumpsters, and a medley of squirrels, rabbits, and small rodents like mice, moles, voles and rats.

Ancient American mythlore portrays Coyote as both creator and fool, and contemporary opinions of the animal are similarly nuanced. Whole websites are devoted to shooting, trapping, and poisoning coyotes, and there are videos of them being killed on Youtube. While they are infamous sheep eaters and are thus considered a threat on many livestock farms, coyotes present few dangers in urban and suburban living, where they may fit nicely into ecological niches as a nontoxic form of rodent control. It is unfortunately true that they will attack roaming cats and small dogs, but this can be avoided by keeping your animals indoors if coyotes are a potential threat. (Side note: the threat posed by coyotes is dwarfed by traffic mortality, which kills 5.4 million cats annually.)

Here in our cat-less Hyde Park household, the knowledge that we are cohabbing with coyotes just makes for a little extra intrigue while walking and a few double takes whenever sirens are heard at night.

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Coyote drawing by artist Susan Fox. Tracking sketches from Good Shepherd Farm Alapacas.

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