The haunting beauty of coyote song
(Reprinted from above link)
It's on some of these sub-zero evenings that we can hear the "coyote chorus" as a pack sprints through the neighborhood and surrounding woods.
Yipping and howling echoes in the frozen night of midwinter. It is eerie and beautiful at the same time, comforting and wild together in the stillness.
When we hear their howls, we think something is about to become a meal. Or are they calling for a different reason?
Mid- to late February is their mating season. Certainly, this is no Florida honeymoon around here!
State Fish & Wildlife tells us that coyotes remain active year-round; they do not hibernate. The pregnant females have their pups in a den, usually giving birth to four to eight in April or May.
The Eastern coyote is well established throughout Massachusetts except on Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. A medium-sized predator, it is an opportunistic feeder and adapts easily just about anywhere.
While coyotes are usually shy of humans, you can see them where food is commonly found. They live well in suburban, urban and rural settings, eating whatever food is available: small animals, birds, insects and fruit.
If need be, they will feed on garbage, pet food, birdseed and compost.
Hmmm... I might be part coyote! Just kidding!
As to this furbearer species, a management program and regulated hunting and trapping seasons have been successfully established.
Medium-sized, like dogs, with similar body sizes and shape, they have longer, denser fur, pointed, erect ears and long, black-tipped, bushy tails.
Females weigh 33 to 40 pounds, males 34 to 47 pounds, with very large ones up to 60 pounds.
Coyotes communicate by vocalizing, scent marking, and through a variety of body displays. It is common to hear them howling and yipping at night, or even during the day in response to sirens or other loud noises.
When you hear coyotes howling, it's usually just a few coyotes with their pups. They do not howl to announce a kill; this would attract other wild animals. Who likes to share when you're hungry? Coyotes howl because they're trying to locate their families and telling non-family members to stay out of their territory, or to advertise for a mate during breeding season.
Pups practice howling and can be especially vocal in late summer as they attempt to mimic their parents.
Adults also let it rip when there is a threat towards the pups. The mature coyotes will "scatter and howl" to distract a threat away from the den site.
So turn down the TV and listen in the frozen night; you may hear the eeriest, most wonderful sounds of the coyote doing what we like to call "howling at the moon."
ELMER THE SNOWMAN: Our funny little English setter Elmer burst out the door after the most recent snow and buried himself. He was completely covered with snow except his eyes when he popped up. He made himself to be the complete snowman, except for the carrot nose, of course!
ICE FISHING CLINIC: A free, non-competitive, family-friendly, learn-to-ice-fish event will be held at Ashfield Lake from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday. Meet at the Lake House Dock at 41 Buckland Road. Bring your ice fishing equipment, or borrow limited equipment. Bait will be provided. This event is in cooperation with the Mohawk Trail Regional School District After Care Program. Advance registration is required. For more information and to register, email Alia Woofenden at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPORTSMEN'S SHOW: The Northeast's largest sportsmen's show will be held Feb. 22-24 at Eastern States Exposition grounds in West Springfield. The Springfield Sportsmen's Show, now in its 36th year, features fishing, hunting and outdoor adventure displays and gear. Stop by MassWildlife's booth at the show to purchase hunting and fishing licenses or ask questions about wildlife and the great outdoors.
BOATING COURSE: The South Hadley Flotilla 97 will offer a free 11-week Boating Skills & Seamanship Class from 7 to 9 p.m. at Mosier Elementary School in South Hadley beginning on March 4. Textbooks cost $35 and include a workbook with final exam. The comprehensive course includes types of boats, equipment, rules of the road, trailer, boat handling, chart work, lines, knots, basis weather, communication and GPS info.
The course is family friendly and children from seventh grade or older are welcome.The certificate satisfies most U.S. state requirements for licensing and may reduce marine insurance. For more information or to register call Marcia at 413-533-3325 or email to email@example.com
ARCHERY SHOOT: The Chicopee Sportsmen Club will hold 3-D Archery Shoot series beginning on March 3, weather permitting. Sign-in is from 7 a.m. to noon. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Kids under 10 are free. For more information, call Mike at 413-219-9637 or Larry at 413-530-0043.