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December 16, 2012 Posted by: BW - Volunteer Interpreter

Canis latrans

The fresh layer of snow in the Valley has brought out the coyotes. Several have been spotted over the past few days, roving around in search of food. The series of photographs pictured here show a classic hunting tactic. The coyote will walk through a snow covered meadow, listening very carefully for the sound of small mammals moving underneath the snow. Pausing, it listens intently, checking the exact location of its unwary prey by making small adjustments to the listening angle. When it has pinpointed the prey, it leaps into the air, descending face first into the snow in an attempt to get its next meal. While this is extremely entertaining to watch, especially when the snow is deeper, the coyote's success at this skill will impact how well it survives this winter.

Coyote stalking sequence in a snow-covered Yosemite Valley meadow.

Coyote searching for small mammals beneath a layer of snow in Yosemite Valley.

BW, Nature Scene, Yosemite Valley

1 Comments Comments Icon

  1. Fay - Clovis, CA
    December 20, 2012 at 03:46

    We were there the 15th and we saw 2 coyotes. 1..in the road past Wawona. 2. was in the meadow next to the chapel, this one captured a rodent as we watched. They were both wild and beautiful in their winter coats.


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Did You Know?

Sierra Sweet Bay

In Wawona and downstream, the South Fork Merced River provides habitat for a rare plant, the Sierra sweet bay (Myrica hartwegii). This special status shrub is found in only five Sierra Nevada counties. In Yosemite, it occurs exclusively on sand bars and river banks along the South Fork Merced River downstream from Wawona and on Big Creek.