Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Coyotes Don’t Sing No Lullabies

(Please click on the thumbnail to view the larger version)

Yesterday, I was certain that my post for Wednesday would be about the excitement, questions, and frustrations presented by my brand new monitor. It’s not as if those things weren’t much on my mind when I went to bed last night—especially since I had dragged my feet and never made the final decision on a calibration device. That means I have this shiny new screen on my desk, yet now I wouldn’t dare nail down the processing on a color image. (Today’s shot was processed quite some time ago, then saved as a jpeg, this morning. I will risk putting this up and deal with the embarrassment later.) I must make a decision and commit to the further strain on budget before this day is done. (Yes, I have winged it all this time, spending hours of hair-pulling and calibrating to dozens upon dozens of test prints.) Being convinced that I don’t have it in me to go through that again, I will finally add a calibration device to the long list of equipment. Does better late than never count here?

When I could no longer hold my eyes open to stare at all that glorious real estate on my desk top, I fell in bed with hopes of slowing down my racing body and mind to get a good night’s sleep. (After all, the new goal is to get up before the sun does.) I was making a little progress in slowing my brain and, I think, drifting off, when several ear-splitting high-pitched screams split the air. It sounded as though a dog were being torn to shreds. “What’s that?!”, I cried as I jumped up. “It’s just coyotes,” The Husband calmly replied. I was stunned that he was unruffled. Wide awake now, I knew as he was right, but I couldn't clear my mind of stories about neighbors' cats and small dogs that had fallen prey to coyotes .

The singing persisted. The pack, and judging by the racket—it must have been a quite a large pack, was just outside our bedroom. Now, coyotes are common place in Los Angeles—especially in any foothills area. In Shadow Hills, I heard their singing on many occasions. But in the past, they have been further away, and if I ever heard this many of them, their distance from me muted the sound. It’s not a sound that is easy to ignore when it’s that loud and that close. It’s eerie and just a little disturbingly primal. I wasn’t frightened, but it is a sound that if loud enough and close enough does tend to set your teeth on edge. Within a few minutes, it even got to The Husband, who dealt with the situation in a quite straightforward manner. He stomped to the door nearest the bedroom, flung it open, stepped out on the porch, and yelled at the pack—telling them in no uncertain terms to “knock it off”.

Whatever the occassion for the friendly singalong in our field, it took the coyotes quite a while to wrap up and move on. Yes, while The Husband was forceful, he wasn’t altogether successful. I even had the impression that the pack stuck around for a time chewing over the unseemly outburst from the porch. I lost track of how long the racket continued. It frayed my nerves a bit. The sound coyotes make is called singing, but believe me when it’s outside your bedroom, it won’t lull you to sleep. Thank goodness they eventually moved on but they left behind them an air of uneasiness.

The experience convinced me that I prefer my coyotes one at a time, in broad daylight, at a comfortable distance, and definitely not yelping and howling.

(Note: If you are curious about the sound that I finally fell asleep with, I found a
link for you at National Geographic. To prepare yourself for the full experience, scroll down to “hear a coyote”, turn up the volume on your speakers until the noise is ear-splitting, close your eyes, imagine that you’re in bed and that it’s quite dark outside, and listen for a while. Have a nice nap.)


  1. LOL! "Knock it off!!!" I guess that your husband didn't get much respect from those guys! LOL!

    Now, as for that sound ... dang! I listened to the National Geographic recording and I can understand your and your husband's frustration. Well, at least sometimes they sound like dogs, with the barking and what not!

    Lastly, I have a suggestion for a calibration tool:

    It's called Eye One and it is fantastic. John Watts, who does printing for a living, recommended it to me almost a year ago and I've never been sorry that I bought it. My prints came out almost dead-on the first time that I used it.

    It's pretty easy to use, too. Here's a link to John's website if you want to know who he is:

  2. Paul - Thanks a million. You tipped the scales. I had been doing my research and had a strong sense that this was the right choice, but was feeling a little insecure about spending more in this financial climate. You are a big help. Eye One it is! I had even found it at B&H for $199.95 and, with my NAPP membership, I get free shipping. Problem solved. Hooray! I am indebted to you.

    Of course, you know now, I hope, that this means if I get lost I will be calling on you for help since you have experience with this one. Uh oh.

  3. Paul - I got so excited about the validation of my tentative choice for a calibration device that I skipped right over coyote tales.

    I am delighted that you checked out the link. It really is an unnerving sound, isn't it? As for The Husband, I don't think he has much confidence left in "Knock it off".

  4. I also have an Eye One – it's excellent, and I recommend it unreservedly. (Not that it matters as you've already ordered one.) It's pretty easy to use, too.

  5. Amy - Your recommendation certainly does matter and thank you for chiming in. I appreciate it. Besides I am delighted to hear that it's pretty easy--for me, it needs to be. Does this mean I can send some of my "help!" calls your way.

    As it happens, I haven't ordered yet. To save a few bucks, I am waiting for B&H to begin taking orders Friday morning. Of course now that I feel so confident about my decision, I am impatient. Oh, well. The time will fly by.

  6. When we lived in a rural area near Corning, NY, my wife and I were routinely serenaded by coyotes during the night (literally under our window). If we were lucky enough to have a full moon, we could see the pack.

    Frankly, the National Geographic clip doesn't do the sound I remember justice. The link you provided simply sounds like a bunch of barking dogs. The sound we used to hear contained a little of that, but when they were in "full voice" it sounded more like a lot of human babies crying all at once (and very loudly). That's the only analogy we could ever come up with. We never got used to that aspect of it. It also always started and ended very abruptly. Very weird (but natural) stuff.....

  7. Paul M - Thanks for validating my sense that the sound I heard was more unsettling than the clip at National Geographaphic. I wondered if memory had amplified in my mind the pitch and frenzy of the noise. I most certainly am not hoping that they come back for another session, mind you; but if they do this weekend, we will have a full moon and we could at least get an idea of how many of them are yelping out there.

  8. Anita, you need to get the camera during the full moon and take some pictures of your friendly neighbors. :-) I'm sure that it would be a "howlllllllling success". Sorry! Couldn't resist that one!

  9. Paul - That provided a welcome laugh. I do promise to have the camera ready, but I can't hope those rascals will show up to serenade.

  10. Thanks for that link to Coyote night noises. I've always wanted some kind of authority to step up and tell me what I am hearing.

    Last night the supposed Coyotes were going nuts. They had more dog like barks and more wolf like howls and a heck of a lot more yipping.

    I've noticed that they seem to make noises right after a kill.

    When a rabbet is in trouble they make crying sounds just like a human baby. Very unnerving especially when you hear the Coyotes shortly afterwards.

  11. I am grateful to have not heard that sound just outside the house since that night. It was way too creepy.


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