I have often said “you won’t know unless you go” and yesterday was another time that theory proved to be true. To get to Antelope Island there is a seven mile long causeway which often has birds on both sides of it, this time of the year there are quite a few shorebirds and gulls that are feeding on brine flies. The American Avocets behind the Coyote in the frame were sounding their distress calls, they didn’t like it being so close to them. (That isn’t snow or ice on the edge of the water, it is sea foam)
I’m used to seeing Coyotes along the causeway during the winter when they are scavenging falcon left overs but I am always pleasantly surprised when I see one during the spring or summer, yesterday I spotted one on the north side of the causeway and after we turned around it moved over to the south side. There were clouds overhead and to the east so the light wasn’t “golden” but there was enough light to take these images.
The Coyote kept sniffing the ground as it wandered along and I wondered what it was looking for. I haven’t seen the falcons recently on the causeway so I doubted that there were any left overs from them. The Coyote wasn’t trying to move to or from the island, if it had been it would have been moving fast and making tracks.
Despite wondering about what the Coyote was looking for I kept taking images of the Coyotes while listening to the calls of the disturbed American Avocets nearby. I was surprised that the Avocets didn’t just fly off.
I admit I was puzzled. I didn’t see the Coyote picking anything up, it wasn’t acting like it was on the trail of voles, it just meandered sniffing the ground.
Some times the Coyote would stop and stare off into the distance giving me great views of its amber colored eyes. I noticed that the Coyote has its sleek summer coat on its face and legs but still hasn’t lost the winter coat on most of its body.
Then the Coyote stopped and through my lens I could see what the coyote was after. I started taking more images while telling Ron what the Coyote was after because he couldn’t see it. Can you see it yet? The next image will show what it was a bit more clearly.
There were four eggs in a scrape on the ground, with their coloration and speckles they were barely noticeable. About that time I looked east and saw an American Avocet in the distance with an egg in its bill, it had to have been an egg shell from a chick that had already hatched because an unhatched egg probably would have been too heavy.
I am fairly certain that these eggs are American Avocet eggs although I saw some Killdeer in the area they weren’t sounding alarmed, in fact they weren’t making any noise at all. Until yesterday I had no idea at all that the Avocets were nesting along the causeway.
In this frame the Coyote was picking up one of the eggs.
And in this frame it was looking up at us with its mouth on the egg. I think those amber colored eyes are beautiful and mesmerizing.
In this frame the partially eaten is visible near the Coyote left foot and another is near the right foot. The partially eaten egg shows blood so it wasn’t just freshly laid, it may have been closer to time for it to hatch.
The Coyote finished the first egg and I thought it would eat any of the others in the nest but it didn’t, it licked its mouth and started moving again. I’m curious about how why the Coyote didn’t eat all of the eggs in the nest. I’m also curious about if the Coyote used sight or smell to locate the first egg.
The Coyote wandered west for a bit, keeping its head low to the ground and then it stopped to look around. There is an egg in front of the Coyote’s left foot in this frame.
Instead of eating this egg though the Coyote took it into its mouth…
And headed west towards the island. It traveled a distance, perhaps more than 75 to 100 feet, with the egg in its mouth and at that point I thought it might be carrying the egg back to its young.
Then it stopped, gently placed the egg on the ground and with its muzzle pushed dried vegetation and sand over the egg. After it covered the egg it gave us a brief look and headed west again. I’ve heard of Coyotes caching food but I don’t think I have ever heard of one caching an egg.
It was a fascinating experience to see and photograph this Coyote locating and eating the egg and I’m tickled to have witnessed the Coyote’s egg carrying behavior plus once again I am very glad to have been in the right place at the right time.