Readers’ wildlife photos

Please keep those photos coming in, for they get depleted quickly!

Today we have two sets of photos showing aggressive behavior. The first is from reader Dick Kleinknecht of Washington State. His notes:

We have an acre or so meadow just below our house (near Seattle, Washington) that often provides entertainment from wildlife: lots of deer, some elk, rare bear, occasional coyote, … etc.  I saw something weird the other day and took some photos.  A coyote [Canis latrans] was “strafing” a doe.  That is, making running passes by her, never closer than about 15-20 feet.  Then the coyote would run around the meadow before making another pass.  The critter sometimes stopped near the doe, as if teasing her, or trying to entice her into action.  A few times she started toward the coyote, who then took off.

The doe had two ~7 month old twins she left at the edge of the meadow and they just watched from a distance.

I have no idea what was going on, as the coyote was no match for even the young deer, and I saw nothing I would interpret as aggressive behavior on its part.  Most unusual!  Any idea about what was happening?

Readers are invited to weigh in here, including identifying the deer.

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 And some insect photos from Roger Sorensen:
Here are a couple altercations in my central Minnesota backyard this past summer. I have several patches of native perennials growing and they attract a lot of pollinators.
This Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) feeding at purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is about to get the bum’s rush from the carpenter bee (Xylocopa sp.). I saw this behavior a lot over the summer, with carpenter bees chasing off conspecifics (2nd & 3rd photos), bumblebees, and anyone else landing on “their” coneflowers. The carpenter bee would hover a few inches away and then dart in and ram the intruder.
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The other two photos show one bee on the coneflower with abdomen raised. The aggressor arrived and hovered about 6” away, slowly orbited the flower and then dove in. I wish the bee-tussle shot wasn’t motion-blurred but it happened that fast.
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34 Comments

  1. Posted December 18, 2016 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Nice photos!

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    going to risk giving away my identity here : we have those coneflowers too and the tiger swallowtail shows up like clockwork – so does the … what is it, pink lady? no that’s an apple… goldfinches too, they love them. thanks to the RWP contributors.

  3. Posted December 18, 2016 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Coyote having good ol’ fashioned fun?

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      That’s what I think. It wants to play, and the running around is an attempt to signal it’s not being threatening.

  4. Christopher
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    I would assume the coyote is merely testing the strength and abilities of the doe, perhaps not seriously, but testing just in case a weakness could be spotted to encourage a full-on attack.

    • Joe Dickinson
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      That was also my guess.

  5. Leslie
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    If the coyote is young, it might just be playing?

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 19, 2016 at 3:17 am | Permalink

      Or learning by experimentation.

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Really interesting photos of the coyote and deer. Could only guess what is going on there. Possibly the coyote is very hungry and a bit desperate. Not likely to expend much energy on something it cannot get. Maybe thinks it would have a shot at the young deer if mom runs off.

  7. Woof
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    That “strafing” is exactly what our dogs (salukis) do when they want to initiate play.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      Yes I think it’s common to all dogs. My dog does that to humans as well. I tell her that she’s “teasing”.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      It could be play. But the play behavior is based on predatory behavior.

  8. chris moffatt
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    agree with woof. looks just like a samoyed’s invitation to play. Must be a young coyote. And do they have white-tailed deer in Washington state? ‘cos that sure looks like one.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      Believe it is Mule Deer. White tails don’t go much further west than Nebraska I think.

      • Posted December 18, 2016 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        There are Columbia White-tailed Deer in western Oregon. Not a lot of them. Mostly Mule Deer.

    • Grania Devine e
      Posted December 19, 2016 at 12:12 am | Permalink

      We have white tails in southeastern BC, too.

  9. Jeremy Tarone
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    I’ve read coyotes are known to play with dogs, get them to let their guard down, just before they kill and eat them.

    • Posted December 18, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      We were warned about that by a park ranger when camping with a dog at Rocky Mountain National Park.

      • Diane G.
        Posted December 19, 2016 at 3:19 am | Permalink

        That’s a bit chilling…

  10. Marion
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    I’ve heard that one coyote will lure an animal into chasing it back to the pack, where it can be killed.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      I have not heard of that one, but one that they do, I think, is work in pairs where one harasses the parent while the second takes the youngster she is trying to protect. That is not happening here, I guess, but the behavior could be based on just that strategy.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      I’m going to tuck that neatly away for use as an apt metaphor.

    • Woof
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      Well that’s rude!

  11. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Very interesting. That is a different species of carpenter bee from the one I always see, which is the huge Eastern c. b. I never see that one go after competitors. Those are some really good pictures you got there, Roger!
    I assume you shot in the continuous shooting mode without flash?

    • Roger S
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      Thanks Mark! There’s some continuous shooting, but the bee’s behavior was so predictable and (seemingly) deliberate that I was able to do a lot of single shot too.

  12. Kevin
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    I just saw a coyote sauntering after I deer outside our house and the deer looked apprehensive but the coyote look like he was having a very fun time. Maybe they are just playing. I cannot see how a coyote could take down the grown deer.

  13. Posted December 18, 2016 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    I suspect the coyote was playing. However, if the deer had turned out to be weak or injured, its behavior probably would have gotten more serious fast.

  14. Carl
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Black tail deer.

    • Purshia
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      Yes. Black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus), a subspecies of mule deer (O. hemionus hemionus). We have white-tailed deer in Washington State, mostly east of the Cascade Mountains where you also find mule deer.

  15. Posted December 18, 2016 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Probably a young coyote just messing around. I’ve seen them try to hunt my dogs and I’ve seen them play along like one of the gang. This one looks just old enough to know he is supposed to be hunting but smart enough to know the doe would kick the bejesus out of him. And yes, a sub of mule deer called black-tailed deer in western wa.

  16. DickK
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    Animals in the wild usually have little else on their mind besides lunch, so I hesitate to anthropomorphize here. It looks like play, but I suspect lunch is still the prime motivator. Coyotes in my area of Washington are well fed, judging from the large number of “Missing Cat/Dog” signs I see posted. Still, hunting in pairs (I didn’t see another coyote anywhere near the twins but am not surprised) is standard, luring one into a trap, luring mom away from her very muscular kids, probing for weakness in mom. Very clever bunch of readers. Thanks.

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 19, 2016 at 3:22 am | Permalink

      Cool pics, Dick! What an interesting neighborhood you live in.

  17. Diane G.
    Posted December 19, 2016 at 3:24 am | Permalink

    Fantastic butterfly/bee series, Roger! And really interesting behavior!

    • Roger S
      Posted December 20, 2016 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Thanks Diane!


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