DEAR JOAN — On a recent Sunday morning, I spotted a coyote in my backyard from my kitchen window. It was running around in loops along the fence line for the most part, but also did some exploring.
It appeared to be healthy and relaxed. When I made eye contact through the window, it jumped the fence and ran away.
I am guessing that it was following Hale Creek, two blocks away from my house, and wandered off into the residential area.
I do not have water features, birdfeeders, pets, animals, etc. that may be of interest in my backyard, but I am wondering if my backyard is now part of its territory and if it may choose to come back at a later time.
Would like your insight on this matter!
Balan Srinivasan, Los Altos
DEAR BALAN: With just one sighting and not knowing more about the coyote, it’s hard to draw any definite conclusions.
Many coyotes form packs, usually consisting of an alpha male and a female, which are a breeding pair, their offspring from this year and perhaps some from the previous year. The pack might also include other coyotes with lesser standing.
Packs have a home range and within that range, territories. They mark them with urine and defend them against interlopers. The size of the territory depends on the size of the pack and how much food is available.
There also are transient coyotes that are looking for a pack or are making their way around and through the various territories. Most of these are young coyotes, recently separated from their family pack, or older or ailing coyotes that have been forced from their packs. Researchers believe that half the coyotes we see in our backyards and such are solitary animals.
Solitary coyotes may wander in and out of an area of up to 60 square miles and that may contain many different cities.
Even though you say your yard offers no attraction to a coyote, your neighbors’ yard might offer more hospitality than you do. This coyote, however, seemed to be enjoying itself, perhaps relaxing in an area that offered no threat or danger to it.
Whether you’ll ever see it again depends on its classification as part of a pack or a solitary coyote. It likely was out looking for food, stopped in your yard for some respite, and then was back on the hunt. You might never see it again, or it might become …….