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Mating Season for Eastern Coyotes

If the increased yelping of eastern coyotes hasn’t caught your attention, you may not be aware that this is the peak of their breeding season. Female coyotes come into estrus once a year, for a period of about 10 days.  For the past two or three months, working up to this, male and female coyotes have been increasing their scent marking.  Occasionally you can find where a female has marked with urine, leaving behind a spot of blood (see photograph).  Eventually she attracts one or more sexually active males, and mating ensues. Something I’ve never witnessed, but would love to, is the howling duet of a pair of coyotes prior to mating.   


6 responses

  1. Thank you! I’ve always wondered what those blood spots were!

    February 25, 2012 at 4:10 pm

  2. Kathryn Connell

    We had the fun of a whole family behind my old house a couple of years ago and you could hear all of the pups trying out their “howls” and “yips”. Mid-day, too!

    February 25, 2012 at 7:56 pm

  3. Something I have always found quite curious is that when we humans bleed we are not generally fertile because the egg is being shed with the blood. But with other mammals, when they are fertile, there is some blood being shed. Anyone have any explanations for this?

    February 25, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    • Hi Arianna,
      I found this information on the web…it doesn’t really answer your question, but thought you might find it interesting: “Oestrus, commonly called being ‘in season’ or ‘in heat’, is the only time an animal can become pregnant – it is when the womb lining is thickened in preparation for pregnancy, and the ovaries have either released eggs or are about to release them with the stimulus of mating. In the majority of species, oestrus is the only time the animal feels sexual desire, since it is the only time pregnancy can occur and it would be pointless to mate at any other time. We humans are rare in that we are unaware ourselves of being in oestrus, though it happens once a month – we must work out where we are in our cycle or use ovulation strips to tell us when the best time to try for a baby is.In humans, if a woman does not become pregnant during oestrus, the womb lining and unfertilised egg are discarded – this is menstruation, or ‘having a period’. This does not happen in animals – they reabsorb the womb lining into their bodies instead of shedding it. When some animals, such as dogs, are in oestrus, they produce a bloody discharge, which may lead some people to think the animal is having a period. This is not the case – the animal is ready to conceive, not getting rid of its womb lining after failing to conceive.”

      February 26, 2012 at 12:26 am

      • Here’s a bit more: “Generally animals with estrous cycles will go into ‘heat’ and become sexually active only when their body is in the correct state to establish a pregnancy (ie the endometrium is at the right stage of development, they are ovulating or ready to ovulate). If they don’t get pregnant the endometrium is then reabsorbed. Wikipedia says the bleeding seen in estrous animals occurs when the levels of estrogen drop immediately after the ‘heat’ phase concludes, but it’s not a true menstruation.

        In menstrual cycles, you usually don’t have that obvious time of being ‘in heat’, though there are some indications that sexual activity/allure will increase around the time of ovulation. Generally though, sexual activity will take place at any time in the cycle, whether the conditions are favourable to pregnancy or not. After ovulation if a pregnancy is not established, the endometrium is shed rather than reabsorbed (this is a period).

        So most animals have a different cycle to us, only become sexually active when they are in a fertile state, and may bleed slightly at a different point in their cycle. However they absorb the endometrium instead of shedding it like we do.

        February 26, 2012 at 12:29 am

  4. Elizabeth

    The coyotes were howling up a storm on Appalachian Trail land in Lyme Center, N.H. on Monday evening (the 27th). It was nice to know it was a mating call and not the sound of a pack coming to hunt down me and my dogs on our nighttime walk in the woods.

    February 29, 2012 at 8:36 pm

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