Thursday, October 5, 2006

A rush of adrenlaline wakes you up

Each morning, I get up at 6 am -- or as it has been lately, o-dark-thirty. I stagger into the kitchen and make myself two large mochas. I do the mochas on autopilot and luckily have quite a system down although sometimes when I've been sick or had insomnia or too many late nights cramming to get schoolwork done, I have made some interesting mistakes.

This morning, I walk into the kitchen, brutally turn on the overhead light, and start laying out my coffee making materials. From outside, I hear this blood curdling noise. Animal? Child? Adult? Can't tell but whatever it is, it's not happy! Like an agonized scream. I go to the back slider and look out. My dogs are both sound asleep -- I can see Rosie in her doghouse. The noise comes again. It's coming from the creek behind our house. Looking out that way, it looks like utter wilderness (when you can see anything -- it's pitch black back there now) but actually a highway runs through it and we can see car headlights when they go by especially in the winter. But now, I can see nothing. The sound comes again and suddenly my brain engages as I hear the sound echoed from further away, behind me, probably out on the golf course in front of my house. Coyotes! There is a coyote down by my creek or next to the highway howling its little heart out. Another was calling back to it. They did it four or five more times and then were done.

Amazing sound. They don't howl like wolves. This was an "aroooooooooor" sound. A month ago, my mother was here visiting for a few nights. She was woken up by the same thing -- only this time they were cruising up our street howling. The rest of us slept through it but Mom, fueled by sleeping in a strange house no doubt, was up and looking out the window. Couldn't see anything but heard them and again, took a little while to figure out what the noise was. The sound of coyotes will scare you but when you figure it out, you get a bemused smile on your face.

Our coyotes are small and healthy. I have seen one about 8 times since we moved here. They aren't shy. They'll run across the road in front of the car. I saw one run up the golf course at 10:30 am on a Sunday. They are beautiful creatures and I love it when I hear them. A few times, I've heard them calling each other late at night -- into the wee hours of the morning -- they'll be spread around our little valley and calling back and forth to each other -- yipping, howling, barking. It's amazing. I usually get up and go sit on the porch in the dark and listen.

So, that's what I was doing at oh-dark-thirty before I had my coffee. Listening to coyotes calling in the dark!

Picture stolen blatently from The Santa Cruz Natural History Museum.

Oh and here's what I am going to be doing on Sunday! Check it out. Here's the info. Here's a video. The Big Sit -- now this is my kind of birding!


Susan Gets Native said...

Call me crazy (everyone else does) but I LOVE coyotes. I haven't seen any at our house...yet.
Along I-275, the interstate near our house, I have seen 4 dead coyotes along the roadside. And one ran across the road in front of me last year about 3 miles from our house. They are comin' and there's no stopping them.
I'm glad they are here. They are filling the niche that was left by wolves. Wolves scare me, but coyotes aren't likely to get into a pack and kill you.

LauraHinNJ said...

Coyotes take much smaller prey than wolves, so I'm not sure we can say they're filling that niche.

Anyway, nice that you get up to hear them - I do the same when the owls are calling - nice thing to do at o-dark-thirty.

-llm. said...

I have only heard a few owls around here. I take a walk up a nearby hill and heard great horned owls hooting at each other early one morning. That was sooooo cool. For three nights in a row last year, there was something in the woods behind my house that was screaming like an angry squirrel. I found a website with owl sounds and I'm pretty sure it was an owl doing it but I never saw it -- it was nearby, could have cared less about me and my flashlight and flew from tree to tree screaming and then doing it again. Can't say I'm sad it didn't move into the neighborhood, really!

LauraHinNJ said...

Screamers in the woods - sounds fun!