You would think a former farm girl like myself would be offhand about animals. But the coyotes of Mount Washington make it difficult to be blasé.
The most distracting noises in my neighborhood aren’t the lonesome wail of trains in the distance or the thumping bass of summer parties. It's not the pop of fireworks from Dodger Stadium or the police and firehouse sirens on Saturday nights and rainy days.
And while might have the , the howling coyotes in the canyon behind my house are far and away the noisiest bunch in my part of the Hill.
They may not be the loudest in sheer noise but their howls are so plaintive that I can’t help but stop whatever I’m doing and wonder what, exactly, inspired that particular cry. Hunger? Loneliness? Or something even more elemental.
Standoff in the Canyon
The other night, the latter seemed most likely.
First there was very loud, very angry “chittering." Based on online audio research (don’t ask), I think it was a skunk although it may have been a raccoon. Or possibly a possum. Do possums make angry noises?
Or just play dead?
The chittering stopped then started up again. Was it my imagination or did the protests sound more desperate?
Then, suddenly, it was silent.
And then came the most unearthly howls I have ever heard. They didn’t sound like the usual coyote howls. And the sound wasn’t yowling dogs, although they chimed in soon after.
It was raw and primitive and chilling.
More Coyote Confrontations
My friend and neighbor Susan Nininger told me--via Facebook--about the coyote encounters in the Frontenac/Avenue 45 area. Susan said the other evening, she was out walking her dogs and a coyote followed them “all the way home. I saw his little ears popping up out of the tall grass on the park tip where Frontenac meets Avenue 45 area. [I returned] home just in time and whisked the dogs into the house.”
Susan also passed along the information that a neighbor’s little white Maltese has gone missing--taken out of her yard. Equally chilling, “a group of folks on Avenue 45 witnessed a pack of six coyotes surround a German shepherd [that] took off running with the coyotes on his/her tail.” Yikes.
What’s going on?
"Our Neighbor, the Coyote"
Recently, Councilman Ed Reyes sent out a letter with “Do’s and Don’ts” about “our neighbor, the coyote”. I love this description because a) I think that despite the aforementioned altercation, the coyotes are our neighbors in this urban wilderness and b) I feel like I know more about the coyotes in the neighborhood than I do about some of the people on my block.
Because of the “Quick Coyote Facts” on Councilman Reyes’s letter, I know that “Coyotes mate January through March with pups being born in April through June.”
So what was going on the other night with the chittering and the howling?
My money is on dinner that talked back.
And that’s the real urban jungle.