Common Name: Coyote.
Scientific Name: Canis Latrans.
What to look for? The Coyote - a.k.a, the “Prairie Wolf” - resembles a small German shepherd dog, but its nose is longer and more pointed and its tail is bushier than most dogs. And the Coyote carries its tail below the level of the back rather than curved upward. Its upper body is typically light gray to dull yellow. The Coyote has course outer hairs that are usually tipped with black. The underparts are whitish. Its ears are erect and pointed. Their eyes are greenish gold. First coyote sighting of summer of 2019: young coyote prowling pond on 8/19/2019 during early evening.
Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? Look along the ridge lines of our ponds, the wooded area on the north side of our pond (they appear to set up a den there during breeding season in the spring) and our various walking paths.
How big are they? The Coyote averages 24 inches high and 50 inches in length, including a 16-inch tail. Most Coyotes weigh 25 to 35 pounds and some may weigh up to 55 pounds.
How else do they behave? Coyotes are nocturnal - mostly active from dusk until dawn. But they are sometimes seen during the day as occurs often here at Carillon Stonegate Pond. Although Coyotes live in family groups, they usually travel and hunt alone or in loose pairs. In this way they are different from wolves, which sometimes leads to the impression that Coyotes do not form packs since they are usually seen alone. In addition to resident packs, the urban population also consists of solitary Coyotes that have left packs and are looking to join groups or create their own territories. If a Coyote is seen running across a field, it is impossible to know if it is a solitary Coyote or a member of a pack from that sighting.
What’s for dinner? Rodents and small animals! Rabbits and mice are important food items in Illinois and other Midwestern states. Although Coyotes are predators, they are also opportunistic feeders and shift their diets to take advantage of the most available prey. Coyotes are generally scavengers and predators of small prey but can shift to large prey occasionally. While most of their diet consists of small animals, they often eat insects, fruits or berries.
Where do they take up residence? Coyotes are common throughout Illinois. They're most abundant in the southern and central parts of the state. They're least abundant in the northern tiers of counties of our state. Coyotes are very adaptable and occur in nearly all types of habitat, including urban and suburban areas. They prefer semi-open country with a mix of farmlands, grasslands and woodlands. The den site of a Coyote is typically in vacant fox, badger, or woodchuck burrows that Coyotes have taken over. Breeding peaks in late February or early March with pups born approximately 60 days later during late April or May. Litters of 4 to 9 pups are the norm. Pup season is the only time Coyotes will voluntarily use a den; otherwise, Coyotes usually sleep above ground in the open or in cover.
Where do they migrate? An adult male Coyote has a home range of 13 square miles. They do not migrate in the fashion of the birds that we have discussed on this blog – searching for warmer or cooler temperatures depending upon the season. Coyotes may relocate in search of better food supply.
Do they make any interesting sounds? The nocturnal yaps and howls of Coyotes may be their most noteworthy characteristic. Here is a link to the sounds of the Coyote (National Park Service).
Interesting Facts About Coyotes:
Illinois pioneers called Coyotes “prairie wolves” or “brush wolves.”
Coyotes are Illinois' largest wild predator.
Coyotes are common across Illinois and have increased during the past few decades.
Coyotes can run up to 43 miles per hour for short distances.
Coyotes are good swimmers.
In captivity, Coyotes can live 13 to 15 years but in the wild, most die before they reach three years of age.
For more information on Coyote and sources of information used in this blog (these are the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Illinois Department of Natural Resources, University of Illinois Extension, and Urban Coyote Research Project.
The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.
Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!