I’m not a wildlife expert by any means, although I do pride myself on being able to recognize a rabbit track from a squirrel, a partridge from a crow and dog poop from coyote poop…..uh huh…in fact, I own a book devoted to teaching the reader how to recognize the various forms of wildlife “scat” as animal droppings are frequently described.
That, coupled with an interest in hunting, has my eyes to the ground quite frequently, keeping an eye on what is there, and taking some notice of things that catch my eye, like the other day when I was walking our little cottage lane.
I typically have an eye out for wildlife, or signs of wildlife around the camp, and I am usually quite fascinated when I see anything, so it didn’t surprise my darling camp partner Wendy, when I came into the camp, shoved my digital camera under her nose, and said,
“Look at this!!”
“Get that out of my face.” Was the first thing she said, shoving my hand away, “What is it?” she finally asked, sensing my disappointment in her failure to share my exhuberance over my digital camera.
I pointed to the camera screen, “It’s coyote crap!” I said, “I found it just up the lane by the neighbor’s.”
“Uh-huh” she said, straining her eyes to look at the pic on the tiny camera screen. “You didn’t bring any of it home did ya?” she asked, raising that damn eyebrow of hers the way she always does…..”Please say you didn’t.”
“I didn’t.” I replied, “Didn’t have anything to carry it in, and it wasn’t frozen enough to be solid to pick up.”
Both eyebrows went up when I said that, and I think she breathed a sigh of disappointment, or perhaps it was relief. You seldom read about people “breathing sighs of disappointment…..”
“There must be one in the area.” I said, “Which doesn’t surprise me, given that we are in the woods, still, it is cool to see it in our driveway.”
“I don’t call it cool.” Wendy said, “I call it scary.”
“Ahhhh don’t worrry.” I said, realizing that if she becomes frightened that there might be a coyote around she won’t want to go outside. That means chores like hauling water and chopping kindling would fall on my shoulders. “I bet he is miles and miles away from here by now, there is nothing here for them to eat, we haven’t had a rabbit around here since 1985. I’m sure he was just passing through.”
“How do you know it’s not dog poop? she asked, “It looks like dog poop to me.”
“There’s hair in it, probably snowshoe hare….ummmm hair.” I replied, noting her eyebrows actually kinda twitching now.
“I thought you said that there weren’t any rabbits around here since 1985.” she countered, in that way that women usually do, reminding you of what you just told them.
I stammered a second before saying, “There isn’t, those are snowshoe hare…um hairs….see.” I said, pointing to the tiny hairs embedded in the droppings in the picture. “Not rabbit……besides, that was probably the last one….the last snowshoe hare around here. Too bad the coyote got him before he left.”
“Can you move over a bit.” Wendy said, waving the television remote in her hand, “I am watching my show.
I moved out of the way so she could see Coronation Street, which I know is not….her show. Aren’t you going out to split some kindling? I got your little chair out and I got an empty box out by the woodpile with your hatchet….”
She smiled at me, that winning smile that makes me do stuff. “Will you do it please? I am watching my show, besides, I am not crazy about sitting outside if there is a pack of coyotes in the area.”
“I didn’t say a pack of coyotes.” I countered, “Just one”
“That’s one too many for my liking. While you are at it, please fill up the water buckets too.”
Somethings are better kept to myself……
Here is the picture I took of the mystery “scat” from the driveway, I am sure it’s coyote, but I am open to suggestions? Maybe a raccoon? Looked a little big for a raccoon to me, and although it is difficult to see in the pics, it was full of white hairs, leading me to conclude whatever it was had eaten something white.
The book I mentioned above is called, The Encyclopedia of Tracks and Scats: A Comprehensive Guide to the Trackable Animals of the United States and Canada
It’s about $20 bucks from Amazon.
Coyote at the Kitchen Door: Living with Wildlife in Suburbia
Had a coyote sighting in your neighborhood? Email me and I’ll add it to the list. firstname.lastname@example.org
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