When staying with Daisy’s family in Yorba Linda, California, I often wake up early in the morning and take the short walk up to the southern end of Carbon Canyon Regional Park to do some birding. To say the habitat there is disturbed would be a serious understatement: from the giant dam which I assume is meant to stop any flooding or mudslides that might occur in the canyon to the planted grove of redwoods it seems like very little in the park came about naturally. Despite, or maybe because of the active human intervention, quite a few species can be seen in a couple hours in the morning. (I averaged forty species on my visits and I imagine that if my ear was more attuned to the chip notes of southern California birds I could come up with more.)

But there are more than birds in the Carbon Canyon. I am accustomed to seeing a Coyote or two on each visit I make to the park in the early morning before bikers, dog-walkers, joggers, and humanity in general get out and about. But the experience I had this morning put my previous sightings in the shade.

Coyote Canis latrans

As I made my way into the park I spotted first one Coyote and then another and then another. Each was making its way down a hill on a dirt road and disappearing into a grove of trees where I assumed they would bed down for the day. But the Coyote count didn’t stop at three. I saw four, five, six, seven, eight! It was great to watch them move over open ground for an extended distance, probably about a quarter-mile.

Coyote running down a hill

Coyote in Carbon Canyon Regional Park

Coyote in southern California

Coyote in Yorba Linda

The route I was taking took me past the grove of trees that the Coyotes had disappeared into. Seeing as I am a pretty big guy, Coyotes are not likely to mess with people, and it seemed like they were going to bed for the day I figured it would be fine to continue on the same path without disturbing them. But when I was going past the trees I heard a rustling in the brush not too far off the path. The rising sun was behind me, the wind was blowing towards me from the direction of the coyotes and I had been moving quietly because I was stalking a flock of White-crowned Sparrows in which I hoped to find a Golden-crowned Sparrow. I half hid behind a bush, put my camera up, and waited.

Not thirty seconds later two of the Coyotes came out of the brush at pretty close range, as you can probably tell from the picture at the top of this post.

Coyote Canis latrans

Coyote in Carbon Canyon Regional Park

Then the pair started heading closer to me, perhaps intrigued by the clicking of my camera, and I detected more movement from behind them. Rather than risk an encounter that would likely end badly for the Coyotes or me I jumped up and yelled. They bolted back into the brush and I was suddenly alone again.

Coyotes are an often reviled and misunderstood animal but I find them beautiful and amazing, especially in how they have adapted to living in the interstices of human habitation.

Have you had a cool Coyote encounter?

I hope you liked these shots of Coyotes.  If you want to see more great galleries of mammals (and, of course, birds) check out 10,000 Clicks, our big and growing collection of gallery posts!

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Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their indoor cat, B.B. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.