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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A pair of song dogs

[She's leading, he's following.]

A pair of coyotes passed the camera on the morning of December 31st. Though they were moving away from the camera, we were grateful nonetheless.

Judging from the number of turds on it, this a one hot coyote route.

We gathered a couple handsful of the fur-packed goodies back in December and made a false latrine right where the male coyote is pausing in the picture above.

During the previous period the latrine didn't slow them down at all. The camera made 13 exposures in 41 days, and not a single one had an animal in it.

Passing coyotes were probably out of sight by the time the camera fired up and shuttered (about 3.5 seconds).

Notice that they are staying close together. The mating season (January-March) is close at hand.

You can also see their tail glands quite well -- those are the black spots on the base of the tail.

A pair of coyotes on the last day of the year . . . could this be a harbinger of better coyote luck next year?

[The dog trot continues.]


randomtruth said...

Speaking of coyotes... I picked up the camera trap that I set on the doe carcass. Got over 230 photos of animals. Even the bear showed (and looks way pregnant to me - love to get your opinion). I even assembled the best pics into a flip-book-style video called "192 pics and 38 days in 76 seconds." It's pretty funny to watch - like a Charlie Chaplin silent movie with foxes and coyotes and deer. :)

Camera Trap Codger said...

RT -- glad you had success. It's hard to beat carcass cams for a lot of action. The bears should be giving birth right now. The neonates are so small that they don't contribute much to a mother's bulk. But bears really bulk up for the winter sleep, as you know, and periodically take a stroll. I suspect they are up and around here with all the mild weather we've been having.

Camera Trap Codger said...

Wow, that bear looks like it has dropsy. I've never seen a bear looking like that except in a zoo. Great pics -- not surprising about the ravens. I'm reading Heinrich's "The mind of the raven" at the moment -- fascinating birds.

randomtruth said...

I'm with you on ravens Codger. Corvids are wicked smart. Have you seen that study where one learned to bend a piece of wire into a hook to fish grubs out of a tube after using a pre-bent wire for a while, and then having it taken away? Amazing.

Bears really don't add that much weight for cubs huh? What about just before they give birth? I'm pretty sure I have pics of the same bear from some months back and she's not fat at all. Wouldn't winter stores be more even over the body and somewhat burned off by now? Got me scratching my head fer sure. I pick up the trap again in a few weeks - maybe I'll get some more pics of her.

Thanks for your help.

Camera Trap Codger said...

RT, bears have delayed implantation of the embryo (actually the very early embryonic stage known as the blastocyst), and the neonates are born in an altricial state of development -- very small, practically naked, eyes and ears closed. The length of true gestation (sans the period of suspended development of the blastocyst) is actually relatively short. The actual weight gained from placenta, fetuses, and fluids at term is on the lower end of the scale for placental mammals. But bears DO fatten up a great deal during good mast years, and that sustains lactation. So what I am saying is that the contribution of the fetuses to the mass of a bear just before birth is relatively small compared to other carnivores.

randomtruth said...

Wow - I knew about the delayed implantation and neonates, but nothing in any of the books or websites I've read gave any details on weight gain (or lack thereof). It was a great year for acorns and manzanita berries, this one musta really pigged out! (but is hopefully preggers too!)