We very much love the animal companions who share our homes, but it would have been in the animals’ best interests if the institution of “pet keeping”—i.e., breeding animals to be kept and regarded as “pets”—never existed. The international pastime of domesticating animals has created an overpopulation crisis; as a result, millions of unwanted animals are destroyed every year as “surplus. This selfish desire to possess animals and receive love from them causes immeasurable suffering, which results from manipulating their breeding, selling or giving them away casually, and depriving them of the opportunity to engage in their natural behavior. They are restricted to human homes, where they must obey commands and can only eat, drink, and even urinate when humans allow them to.Because domesticated animals retain many of their basic instincts and drives but are not able to survive on their own in the wild, dogs, cats, or birds, whose strongest desire is to be free, must be confined to houses, yards, or cages for their own safety.This is a best-case scenario. Millions of dogs spend their lives outdoors on heavy chains in all weather extremes or are kept locked up in tiny chain-link pens from which they can only watch the world go by. Millions more are confined to filthy wire cages in puppy mills, forced to churn out litter after litter until they wear out, at which time they are killed or dumped at the local animal shelter. Even in “good” homes, cats must relieve themselves in dirty litterboxes and often have the tips of their toes amputated through declawing. Dogs often have to drink water that has been sitting around for days, are hurried along on their walks, if they even get walked, and are yelled at to get off the furniture or be quiet.Most compassionate people never imagine that anyone could throw a litter of kittens out the window of a moving car, and they would certainly be shocked by investigators inches-thick files on cases of dogs and cats who have been shot with arrows, blown up with firecrackers, doused in gasoline and set on fire, cooked in microwave ovens, used as bait in dogfights, tortured in satanic rituals, beaten with baseball bats by bored kids, dragged behind cars to “teach them a lesson” for running away, or bound in duct tape to silence their barking. Abuses such as these occur every day.
Ms. Yarden is a practicing animal behavior specialist (Aurora Animal Behaviour) with 35 years of experience in the field and is a published author on the subject. Her “Pets & Their People/Perspective” appears exclusively on LBReport.com
[Introductory note: As previously reported by LBReport.com, efforts are underway in some parts of southern California to trap and kill coyotes. Miriam Yarden offers her perspective.]
|(Sept. 8, 2008) — His zoological name is Canis Latrans. European man, having wrested the wilderness from the much kinder and more sensible care of nature named him Prairie Wolf.||Edit|
The rightful owner of the wilderness, the only true native of this continent whom the white man in is ignorance named “Indian,” called this small and incredibly intelligent canid, God’s Dog.
Legend and lore, intertwined with his belief and ritual, deals with the little animal not only kindly but also humorously: Little Brother, The Trickster, Favorite of the Great Spirit.
Not so the European immigrant to this part of the world. His medieval philosophy which he brought from the old world was simple : if you don’t know it, fear it and if you fear it, destroy it.
This philosophy alone may not have played the indescribable havoc with nature that it has, but coupled with his the belief that God gave man (especially the white man) total control of this world and everything in it to do with as he pleased, if something was in the white man’s way, he knew he had the “God-given” right to get rid of it.
As a result of this arrogance, the American settler attempted to destroy and exterminate anything and everything he did not understand, had no immediate use for, feared, or managed to get in his way, be it animal, vegetable or mineral. Too often he succeeded.
The white man eradicated such species as the passenger pigeon, the buffalo, the wolf (to list only a few) and almost managed to kill off the Indian. The one animal he could not exterminate – not from lack of trying – is the Canis Latrans, the Prairie Wolf, God’s Dog – or as commonly known – the Coyote.
“Coyote” is derived from a godly name. The Aztecs knew the little wild dog by the name of “Coyotl”. It was the Spanish conquerors who distorted the name to kah-yo-tee. This was not difficult for theconquistadores – they distorted many things with great ease…As different species were exterminated by the settlers, nature became considerably un-balanced. They refused to accept that this could happen (“God will provide”), yet even in biblical times, the farmer was well aware of sensible and balanced care for the land as well as it’s creatures, domestic or wild.
As the buffalo disappeared, so did the vast nations of native Americans whose lives were inextricably tied to this great beast. As the wolf was trapped, shot, poisoned and wiped out by any nefarious means that man could dream up, herds of ungulates became large, weak, sickly and naturally, found themselves starving for lack of natural population control which the wolf provided efficiently, sensibly and above all, without tampering with the gene pool. In other words, wolves did not hunt for trophy – they hunted for food and took only the old, the weak, the lame and the very young.
Thus it was that when the wolf was gone, man turned to the next wild canid, which in his ignorance, he named Prairie Wolf. The Canis Latrans is not a wolf (wolf being Lupus). However, for lack of a better patsy, a better victim, a better way to get his government to pay him for work he did not have to do, he declared that the coyote was as dangerous and vicious a predator as the wolf (which of course, the wolf wasn’t).
Thus, it became the manly thing to hunt these little wild dogs as ruthlessly and cruelly as only man can. The government paid him a bounty for the fun he had killing the little animal.
To justify his hatred of the coyote (as he needed justification of his relentless war on the wolf) he also attributed characteristics to this animal which he never had (the wolf never had the viciousness attributed to him by man either). Man insisted that the coyote is a predator of large ungulates such as deer, moose, elk, and above all, his own domestic animals, cattle, sheep, fowl, etc.
All unforgivable sins, since the loss of deer, moose and elk cuts into the manly sport-hunter’s fun and the domestic animal loss cuts into the rancher’s profit. And therein lies the bone of contention!
Let us look at this little animal, this God’s Dog and see what he is like, what he lives on, how he survives and whether he is indeed the menace that the settler has declared him to be and succeeded in reinforcing this allegation with money and expert publicity.
He is smaller than a wolf, weighing between 25 to 30 pounds. He is either gray, gold, or tawny brown and his tail often has a black tip. The tail is round and bushy in a healthy coyote. He has a peculiar vocal talent of yelps, howls and coughlike barks which can make as few as two or three animals sound like a pack of almost ten.
The coyote knows that there is safety in numbers and developed this ability to fool his foes. In the case of his worst enemy, this served to convince man that there were “packs of varmints out thar.”
The coyote lives successfully in areas ranging from the lowest desert all the way to the highest mountain ranges and can subsist on almost any kind of food. He is happy with small rodents and insects, fruit and carrion, vegetation and man’s garbage.
He mates for life and maintains a territory which he and his mate stake out by scenting. Within this territory there may be more than one den where surplus food is cached if there is any, and in such a den the kits will be born at the appropriate time. The coyote may dig such a den for himself and his mate or utilize a natural cave or indentation if he finds one. Both male and female will do their best to defend their marked territory.
The little coyote is perhaps the most friendless of creatures. His main and worst enemy is civilization. Housing developments, factories, farms and industrial complexes rob him of his space. His natural food supply is affected and he has two choices: adapt or move. God’s Dog has done both with equal success – he survived because he is one of the most adaptive creatures on the face of the earth.
As humans continued to encroach on the coyote’s territory, he moved. When man caught up with him, he moved again. With the exception of those coyotes that are desert dwellers, the animal now has nowhere to go. As a result he has become more and more accustomed to the sight and sound of man and he became half-wild, half-tame.
He does not welcome the company of man but he certainly is not as fearful and timid as he used to be. Around the city, he can be seen most often in the hills at midday and sometimes no amount of shouting and threats will intimidate him.
Why is he so daring and shows himself so bravely in the light of day? A large part of the blame must go to such humane individuals whose misguided intentions prompts them to feed wild animals of any kind, including the coyote.
While their kindness is not in doubt, they created a dependence by the coyote on humans and thus, will not be averse to pet food left in backyards, livestock feed and even small pets such as cats and small dogs. Life became easy, food was there for the taking rather than for the hunting.
By nature, the coyote prefers to live in the wild and much prefers his diet of small rodents, insects and fruit. Thus he will be forced to move again, because periodically, man declares a relentless war on the creature, indulges in an orgy of hunting and bloodlust and feels his job “well done”.
The facts are altogether different. It is not possible to destroy the coyote population and it becomes therefore imperative that man finds a way to coexist with the coyote so that problems created by such proximity are reduced and through understanding and common sense, hopefully eliminated.
If you live in “coyote country” or suburbs where coyotes have taken up residence, there are a few simple ways in which you can protect your home, pets and children.
Unless cornered, a coyote will not attack a human (which is more than can be said for the human!). Nevertheless, small children and small pets should be in the yard only under the watchful eye of an adult at all times. Cats and small dogs should be kept indoors both day and night unless accompanied by an adult and kept on a leash at all times.
Large dogs must be brought in for the night because if your bitch is in heat, coyotes will jump the fence to mate. If a female coyote is in heat, your male will also scale the fence to get to her, no matter how well-behaved and how well trained he may be. Spaying and neutering your pets will eliminate most of this aspect of the problem, but even so, any pet, regardless of size should be indoors at night because territorial disputes can arise and such disputes between coyotes and domestic dogs is not desirable.
NOTE: of ALL wild animals, the coyote has the lowest incidence of rabies. In fact, in 1984 there were 5 rabid cows in the state of California and not a single rabid coyote. Neither is the coyote a rabies-carrier like the skunk, squirrel or possibly the raccoon.
Make it a habit to feed your pets indoors. Make sure your trash cans are tightly covered.
DO NOT store or keep food or pet food outside. Keep them in a closed garage or storage building.
Above all DO NOT feed coyotes or any other wild animals!
If you believe that there are coyotes invading your neighborhood, investigate well to make sure that it is not someone’s pet dog, or even a dog-pack on the loose. Not everyone can tell the difference between a coyote and a similar breed dog. If you believe that it is indeed, a dog or dog pack, call your local animal control.
If however, you have reason to believe that the animal is a coyote, then call the LA County Agricultural Commission for help to trap and relocate the animal.
COYOTES IN THE WILDThe coyote is as adaptable and indestructible as he is for several reasons. More than any other wild animal, his reproductive behavior is admirably engineered to correlate with his resources and available space. Why other animals have not succeeded as well is another subject; let us look at a few.
The magnificent wolf is a pack-animal. The pack’s health, nutrition and reproduction totally interrelate to available food and space. So far, the wolf is similar to the coyote. The big difference was that within the wolf-pack, only the Alpha-pair is allowed to mate in order to keep the number of the pack in balance.
The mountain lion or puma is a solitary animal, living and hunting alone. This beautiful cat is also a very shy and a non-prolific breeder. The average size of a litter is two cubs who remain with their mother for at least 2 years during which time she will not mate again.
Not so the coyote, who is not a pack- but rather a family-animal. A pair of parents will live and travel with their offspring and only rarely will they team with “relatives” for the purpose of hunting or feeding, (although they prefer the family life, given the choice).
Once the kits leave the family and strike out on their own, the parents will mate and have offspring again. Coyote kits mature much faster that puma kittens.
It is here that the coyote differs from the others. The more he is hunted, killed and exterminated, the more territory and resources become available and surprisingly, the coyote’s litter increases in size. Whereas if the coyote is left alone to exist without interference by man, the size of the litter is normally about 3.5-4.0 kits. With man’s interference, the litters consist of about 6.0-7.8 kits.
This is not a matter of isolated pairs but overwhelming data of long observation. What is totally astonishing is that man in his blind idiocy and hatred, refuses to face the facts and contributes to the increase in coyote population himself!
How are coyotes hunted by man? The ones that are shot outright are the lucky ones. The ones that are “denned” suffer the kind of agonies only man can inflict. “Denning” is done by either pouring gasoline into dens where young kits are nursing and setting them on fire, burning them alive, or inserting a long, twisted wire into the den and impaling the kits on it, who die slowly and in horrible pain.
The most favored and most self-defeating for man is poisoning the coyote with baited carcasses, usually using cyanide or strychnine. This method is also most dangerous because while the coyote has learned by-and-large to avoid baited meat, other animals have not and the death rate of eagles, raccoons, domestic pets and even children is high, inexcusable and unnecessary.
Does the coyote attack and kill deer, elk or moose? Hope Ryden’s observations of several years have not once been able to document such killing by coyotes. What has been observed and documented by observers (including rangers and wildlife officers) is that families of coyotes will meet, sit and wait for a sick or injured ungulate to die but will NOT touch him while he is alive. This has been observed in desert areas, mountains and specially in national parks.
Let a hunter find the remnants of such a coyote-feast, he will claim coyote predation which he has not witnessed. Proof is not required by his hunting comrades or his rancher friends and allies – the war against the coyote flares up!
Finally, let us touch on the subject of coyote attacks on humans, particularly children. Attacks on human adults have been recorded but upon investigation it was found that the animals involved were not a coyotes but someone’s angry pet dog, a stray dog and each time a dog, that looked somewhat like a coyote and invariably larger and heavier than a coyote.
The trouble is that most people don’t realize that the coyote is not a large creature. As for attacks on children, they have occurred and here another strange phenomenon was observed. Invariably, the coyote who committed the attack (once it was determined that it was indeed, a coyote) was at one time, a pet coyote whom the “owners” considered tame. Many times, these “tame” coyotes live chained up in a backyard and once they reach adulthood and cease to be the adorable kits they were when found, they are no longer tame.
COYOTES WILL NOT BE TAMED! The are wild animals and so they shall remain and any attempt to tame them can only result in grief to the animal and the human who tries it. Apart from the fact that they cannot help but revert to their wild nature when fully grown, they are also extremely territorial and will not brook violation of their boundaries by other animals, humans and very often – children.
Anyone ignoring the true nature of this animal and insisting on altering it, is creating a potential disaster to himself, his family and to the animal who did not ask for such changes in his lifestyle.
In the face of all this, the stupidity of man, the cruelty and horror he visits upon his little brother, the Trickster, the ingenious ways he dreams up to destroy God’s Little Dog, in the face of deliberately endangering himself by exterminating vital links in the ecological chain – the little wild dog endured so far. With his special place in the care of the Great Spirit, he will continue to endure
Photographer Captures the Beautiful Moment a Wild Coyote Starts to Play
Hummingbird feeders fly off the shelves at nature stores and garden centers every year before Mother’s Day.
“Watching these little jewels can provide many hours of enjoyment,” said Debbie McGuire, director of wildlife rehabilitation at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach. “But owning a hummingbird feeder requires a serious commitment. You have to be dedicated.”
Hummingbird feeders need to stay squeaky clean or you may be responsible for giving the birds deadly bacterial and fungal infections, she said.
The rehabilitation center receives 200 to 400 hummers a year. A significant number of adults and orphaned babies are admitted with infections from dirty feeders, McGuire said.
The center’s printed instructions on how to care for a hummingbird feeder clearly state: “Please do it right or don’t do it at all.”
The wildlife experts recommend cleaning the feeder and replacing the sugar solution, or nectar, every two to three days. If you see mold or the solution is cloudy, you’re waiting way too long to clean the feeder and replace the nectar, they say.
To clean, take the feeder down and rinse it thoroughly in hot water. White vinegar is good for cleaning, but avoid soap. Hummers may reject a feeder with soap residue.
The care center recommends making homemade nectar over purchasing commercial solutions. Use 1 cup of sugar per 4 cups of water. Too much sugar is hard on the birds’ liver and kidneys, and too little doesn’t provide the calories they need. They also caution against using artificial sweeteners or honey.
To make nectar: measure a little more water than you’ll need. Boil the water for three minutes, then measure the water again because some will have evaporated. Add the sugar and stir. There’s no need to boil the sugar and water together. Do not add red dye, which is unnecessary and potentially harmful to the birds. The nectar can then be stored for two weeks in a glass container in the refrigerator.
“When selecting a feeder, choose one without a lot of nooks and crannies that make it hard to clean,” McGuire said. “Bacteria and fungus can get trapped in the spaces.
Hang the feeder in a shady area where the birds will be safe from cats.
If you find a sick, injured or orphaned hummingbird, place it in a shoebox with crumpled tissue. Put a pencil-size hole in the cover. Keep it warm and quiet. Call the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center immediately at 714-374-5587. Or bring the bird to the center as soon as possible. It’s open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily at 21900 Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach.
Jennifer J. Meyer is a freelance writer from Mission Viejo. Write to her at
jjthebackyardbirder @gmail.com or visit her blog atjjthebackyardbirder.com.
Loving Hummingbirds to Death
Article by Kimberly Mason
Hummingbirds are easy to attract to a backyard garden, a cinch to keep well fed, and a joy to watch. These sparkling jewels of summer are easy to love.
But if you don’t take proper care to provide healthy nectar and clean feeders, they’re also an easy bird to love to death.
Hummingbird feeders must be kept clean and free from mold and fungus, or the tiny hum-buzzers you so enjoy could develop a serious and deadly fungus infection. This infection causes the tongue to swell, making it impossible for the bird to feed. Starvation is a slow and painful death.
“I hope that the thought of a single hummingbird’s death will motivate you to run out and grab your feeder — RIGHT NOW — and give it a good scrubbing.” ~Rita Rufous Sweetwater
But, just in case you need more motivation to keep your feeders clean, think of the children. A mother hummingbird can pass a fungal infection to her babies — who will also die of starvation.
Fermented nectar creates liver damage, which will also cause death. When you go on vacation this summer, take down your feeders or leave your feeders in the care of a trusted neighbor.
A Cautionary Tale
Vickie Miller, of Chehalis, recently experienced the heartbreaking loss of an Anna’s Hummingbird she called “The General.”
“The General patrolled our backyard every day for over a year and a half. One day he came home with a swollen tongue and we knew he had a fungal infection,” Miller said. “We watched our beautiful General die within 24 hours.”
“I held him in my hand, inside a warm cloth, to help ease his passing,” Miller said. “Please, warn others to keep ALL their bird feeders clean.”
“Keep your hummingbird feeder so clean, that you would drink from it yourself. You don’t like to drink from a dirty glass, neither do I … and for me, it could be fatal.” ~Rita Rufous Sweetwater
The proper care of hummingbird feeders requires a significant commitment of time and energy. For Vickie Miller, the Anna’s Hummingbirds in her backyard have become a year-round commitment.
“In the winter, I bring the feeders in at night to keep them from freezing,” Miller said. “And I’m very diligent about keeping the feeders clean and scrubbed between fillings. It is especially important to change the nectar frequently in warm weather, because the nectar will spoil.”
If you see a neighbor with a dirty feeder, Miller said, “Please, tell them about The General and his fatal fungal infection.”
The Basics of Hummingbird Care
Providing a feeder with a perch helps the hummingbirds preserve precious energy while dining. Keep your hummingbird feeder in the shade. I keep my feeder on a swiveling hanger that I can move into the sun to get a good shot at them with my Nikon, and swing back into the shade when I’m done.
There are several easy-to-clean feeders available at local feed stores and online.
The Dr. JB’s brand is one I have seen recently. It has a wide-mouthed glass jar that is not only easy to fill, but easy to scrub clean. The base of the feeder of that brand comes apart so you can reach into every nook and cranny to scrub away the mold and fungus.
The Aspects HummZinger brand is also carried locally.The Farm Store (Chehalis) carries a hanging feeder and a window mounted feeder, both have lids that lift up for easy cleaning.
I have a More Birds Diamond Hummingbird Feeder, purchased from Kaija’s Garden and Pet (Chehalis).
To clean your feeder, flush the feeder with hot tap water and use a bottle brush to scrub the sides of the glass jar. Do NOT use soap; soap will leave a residue behind. (If you just can’t help yourself and must use soap, a bleach or vinegar and water solution rinse will remove soap residue.)
Inspect the feeder carefully for black mold. If you see any mold growth, soak the
feeder in a solution of 1/4 cup bleach to one gallon of water for one hour.
To make nectar, mix one part ordinary white cane sugar to four parts water. (Do not use store bought mixtures, do not use honey or any other kind of sugar — just ordinary white cane sugar.) Bring to a quick boil, stir to dissolve the sugar, then let the mixture come to room temperature before you fill your feeder.
The boiling water will help slow fermentation of the nectar, but as soon as a hummingbird beak dips and drinks, the microorganisms carried on the beak will be transferred into the nectar.
If the nectar becomes cloudy, it has spoiled and needs to be replaced. A sugar solution can spoil in as little as two days. If your feeder is hanging in the sun or outside temperatures are high, the nectar may start to ferment in just one day.
Put out only as much nectar as your birds will consume in two or three days. If you mix up a large batch of nectar, you can keep the rest in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Western Washington Hummingbirds
The most common visitor in western Washington gardens is the Rufous Hummingbird.
A male Rufous Hummingbird’s orange-red gorget shining in the sun.
The Rufous Hummingbird male is known as the most aggressive of all the hummingbirds. He does not tolerate the presence of other males at “their” feeders and will chase anyone who dares to enter their territory.
The male has a rufous head and back (sometimes sprinkled with a little green), a white breast and an orangey red gorget. The females have a green back, light rufous sides and a creamy white breast.
Anna’s Hummingbirds have been known to hang around all winter in western Washington backyards.
According to Birds of North America, the Anna’s Hummingbird has moved northward, increasing their range, taking advantage of the feeding opportunities in gardens filled with exotic, ornamental plants and the hummingbird lovers catering to their nectar needs throughout the winter.
The Anna’s Hummingbird female is less conspicuously garbed than the male, wearing a quiet combination of grey and iridescent green.
The male Anna’s carries an impressive rose red “bib” that covers his entire head and neck. Both males and females have iridescent emerald green backs and grayish underparts.
The Calliope Hummingbird has been seen in western Washington recently (the sighting of a Calliope on the wetside always causes the Tweeters to get a little twitterpated), but it is a rare visitor here and prefers the east side and the mountains. The Calliope is smaller than the resident Rufous Hummingbirds. The males’ gorget feathers are long pinkish red streaks of color extending from under the bill and down their throat.
Hummingbirds are the sparkling jewels of summer. If you decide to commit the time and energy to care for them, they will reward you with the gift of their beauty, their easy buzzy-charms, remarkable aerial displays, and quirky antics.
If you don’t have the time or energy to commit to their scrupulous care, consider planting a hummingbird garden instead.