My neighbors, a pack of coyotes that live on the ridge behind the house, are just returning from the nightly hunting expedition. They're late today. It's a little after 8:00 am.
Must have been some party.
These guys are noisy. They howl and howl and howl. I don't know how many of them are in this pack but there are several.
We've had coyotes, on and off, for ten years. They arrive, push the foxes out of the territory, and make themselves comfortable. They have lots to eat and an easy lifestyle in these parts. The only danger for a coyote in this part of the city is traffic.
That's right, we're in the city, fifteen minutes from downtown.
In this part of Toronto, you could swear you're in the country. Indeed, we're lucky. We are bounded by High Park to the east and Lake Ontario to the south. The critters, and there are lots of them, come down along the waterways.
Along with coyotes and fox, we have deer, skunk, possum, the occasional porcupine, and of course racoons. Snapping turtles live at the pond and we are on the migration route for over 400 species of birds, including: warblers, shorebirds, sparrows; great horned owls; turkey vultures; and two red-tailed hawks that live in the back yard most of the year.
The Humber River, to the west, is like an animal highway running north to south. The salmon spawn there in the shallows.
Other than the racoons, a species given to verbal abuse of its young, the coyotes are by far the noisiest. OK. The hawks are bad too. They cry all day when their eggs don't hatch. But who can blame them.
I see more wildlife in my city yard than I do in the relatively unpopulated Laurentian Mountains. We don't have moose here yet, or bear, or wolves. But never say never.
Our coyotes are different than the western variety. These animals are a coyote-wolf mix. That makes them larger than their western cousins. They can weigh up to 70 pounds and stand about the size of a german shepherd.
Pretty big animals. I wouldn't leave your kids out unattended. Nor your cats and dogs.
In traditions of the Southwest, Coyote is a trickster figure. Like Raven, Coyote is seen as an agent of the unexpected. When coyote shows up the message is "expect anything."
Coyote is a teacher of balance. As Ted Andrews points out in Animal Speak, a comprehensive dictionary of totem animals, Coyote teaches us to meet the chaos of life with poise and a sense of humor.
Coyote is inteligent, resourceful and adaptable. They cooperate with the close-knit family unit to hunt and the males help rear the young.
I guess I'm in for accelerated learning about the difference between wisdom and folly.
© Patrick O’Neill 2011. All rights reserved.