How to understand coyote vocalizations - Farm and Dairy (2023)

How to understand coyote vocalizations - Farm and Dairy (1)

Of all our wildlife, the most interesting, and most vocal, are Canis latrans, or as we less- than-scientific beings know them, coyotes.

Yes, our eastern coyotes, although close cousins, are a bit different than the western species but in all ways coyotes are coyotes and they are arguably the most vocal of all North American mammals.

Understanding sounds

We’ve all heard them but for the most part, very few of us have any idea what the sounds mean.

After all, the complete arsenal of coyote sounds can range from simple barks to wailing howls given by individual animals or even more amazing and primal, the choir like arrangements produced by groups or packs of coyotes.

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Ohio Division of Wildlife Jamey Emmert, communications specialist, recently released her findings of a very detailed explanation of coyote vocalizations include some insight into the meanings of each.

For the full article, go to The Natural History of the Urban Coyote. Several researchers contributed to the project published as The Natural History of the Urban Coyote and their names and credits can be seen on the website.

After that, search for more internet sites that delve into the behaviors of coyotes. These primary predators are here to stay and try as one might to eliminate them it isn’t going to happen.

Detailed sounds

Below is a very brief version of their more detailed report. Make it a “must read”.

Types of Coyote Vocalizations:

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1. Growl. This vocalization holds no mystery. A growl is used as a threat, specifically for something within close range.

2. Huff. This is the expulsion of air through the nose and mouth, and is also used as a high-intensity threat in close proximity. Huffs are used when there’s bickering over carrion.

3. Woof. This vocalization is made as both a low-intensity threat and as an alarm. It’s a sound made when a coyote is startled and unsure of exactly what is happening.

4. Bark. The bark is a long-distance threat or alert of low to medium intensity.

5. Bark-howl. This is when the coyote gets serious about a threat. The bark-howl is used as a long-distance high-intensity threat or alarm. It starts with a bark and blends into a howl.

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What is interesting about the bark and the bark-howl is that research suggests that the varying intensity and frequency of barks could contain different information.

Howls stably convey information for distances of at least one kilometer. Barks, on the other hand, rapidly attenuated and did not appear suitable for transmitting information.

6. Whine. This sound is used to express submission and is usually given by a subordinate coyote to a more dominant coyote.

7. Yelp. The yelp takes the whine up a notch and represents high-intensity submission. However, it can also be a response to being startled. As is the case with several other of these vocalizations, this categorization shows that coyote communication is more of a gradient.

8. Woo-oo-wow. This is the greeting song of coyotes, and is used during high-intensity greeting displays. The vocalization modulates in frequency and amplitude as a coyote’s motivation shifts.

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9. Lone Howl. The lone howl is just what you probably already know it to be: a howl by a single coyote, which is often started with a series of barks and can distinguish individuals.

10. Group Howl. A group howl is sent up when two or more coyotes come together after being apart, or it could be given as a response to the howls of distant coyotes as a way of giving out location information to any listeners.


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What do the different coyote sounds mean? ›

Coyotes howl and yip primarily to communicate with each other and establish territory. They may bark when they are defending a den or a kill. People typically overestimate the number of coyotes they hear.

How do you identify a coyote sound? ›

If you've ever heard a group howl by a pack of coyotes, you'll know why. Rather than the soul-haunting, drawn-out sound of a wolf's howl, a coyote's howl is characterized by high-pitched barks and yips, with each song consisting of a lot of lyrics. And, coyote songs can be loud.

What is the calling sequence for coyotes? ›

"I start off with electronic male coyote howls," he said. "Then a female yodel, then a non-aggressive diaphragm howl. A few minutes later, I'll do a distress call, grey fox, something in distress. I go from that into coyote pup distress, pup screams, and finally pup death howls.

What does it mean when you hear a bunch of coyotes yelping? ›

"It has several functions. One is to call the pack—really a family group—back together again after a period of individual hunting. A second reason that coyotes howl is to advertise their presence to other packs, essentially warning those other family groups against trespassing across territorial boundaries."

What does coyotes yipping mean? ›

Coyotes are also territorial. The pair howls and yips to let other coyotes know that they have an established territory and not to intrude.

What do coyotes sound like when attacking? ›

What does it sound like when coyotes are attacking? Woof: Coyotes make this sound when they are threatened. This coyote alarm is low-intensity and short range. Growl: Like dogs, growls are used as a threat.

How close are coyotes if you can hear them? ›

Howling sounds can travel around 1,000 yards and can be used by coyotes to identify who's calling, their gender and perhaps their mood.

Should I be worried if I hear coyotes? ›

But there's no need for alarm if you hear or see a coyote. Understanding the howls of the "song dogs" and the animal's natural cycle, as well as knowing how to prevent conflict, will help you better appreciate the wildlife all around us.

What does a coyote interrogation howl mean? ›

Interrogation Howl

Where are you?” This sound serves more than one purpose. The howler could be a transient nomadic interloper checking out the location to see if there are any resident coyotes around. Having had his butt kicked before by trespassing into another coyote family's territory, he is just playing it safe.

What should you not do when coyote hunting? ›

8 Mistakes Rookie Coyote Hunters Make
  1. You're Hunting Where There Are No Coyotes. ...
  2. You're Using the Wrong Call. ...
  3. You're Not Seeing Them. ...
  4. You're Calling Too Much or Too Little. ...
  5. You're Spoiling Your Setup. ...
  6. You Don't Have Enough Places to Hunt. ...
  7. You're Giving Up Too Soon. ...
  8. You're Hunting Pressured Dogs.
Feb 22, 2021

What time should you start calling coyotes? ›

Coyotes are primarily a nocturnal predator, and while you can successfully call in coyotes using various calls during the day, calling them into effective range during the dark hours of the night is extremely effective. Not only are coyotes most active at night, but they are also at their most vocal in the darkness.

What is the best distress call for coyotes? ›

Distress Calls for Coyote Calling

Some of the most popular distress sounds are cottontail, woodpecker, and rodent distress. These calls are simple to use and are effective throughout the coyote's range. It's best to try and match the distress sound your using to the type of habitat in the surrounding area.

What does hazing a coyote mean? ›

Hazing is a method that makes use of deterrents to move an animal out of an area or discourage an undesirable behavior or activity. Hazing can help maintain a coyote's fear of humans and deter them from backyards and play spaces.

What sound does a coyote make when scared? ›


This is when the coyote gets serious about a threat. The bark-howl is used as a long-distance high-intensity threat or alarm. It starts with a bark and blends into a howl.

What happens if a coyote sees you? ›

If you see a coyote during the daytime, you should exhibit caution, as that coyote may have become habituated to humans (and may be more likely to attack). If you are approached by a coyote, you should yell, wave your arms, and/or throw something at the coyote (do not run away).

What does a coyote growl mean? ›

Growling, for example, is used as a threat, perhaps to an animal it sees nearby, while barking is meant to warn an animal farther away or to communicate a threat to coyotes in its pack, the Urban Coyote Initiative reports.

Do barking dogs attract coyotes? ›

Barking can pique a coyote's interest, though the sound is more likely to scare a coyote away after they notice a human presence.

Do coyotes howl when they have killed something? ›

No. Coyotes howl for a variety of different reasons but it would be silly more often than not for a coyote to howl over a kill.

What to do if a coyote growls at you? ›

Don't run away from a coyote.

If you're approached by a coyote, make and keep eye contact with the animal, leash any dogs or pick up smaller dogs, and make some noise. Yell, wave your arms, throw something at the coyote to get it to go away. If it doesn't, leave calmly.

Where do coyotes go during the day? ›

Coyotes hide in covered open areas, raised grounds, or in dens during the day. Dens are most commonly seen in parks and forest areas, shrubbery, preserves, golf courses, and other such regions. These are difficult to come by in urban areas.

How do rabid coyotes act? ›

They will be hostile and may try to bite you or other animals. In movies, animals with rabies look like they are foaming at the mouth. What´s really happening is that the rabies makes them have more saliva and that makes them drool. Other animals may act timid or shy when they have rabies.

Will coyotes run if they see you? ›

Coyotes are naturally timid animals and will usually flee at the sight of a human.

What time of day are coyotes most active? ›

Coyotes are not strictly nocturnal. They may be observed during the day, but are generally more active after sunset and at night. You may see and hear coyotes more during mating season (January - March) and when the young are dispersing from family groups (October - January).

Do loud whistles scare coyotes? ›

The Department of Wildlife also says to bring a noisemaker with you on your walks whether it be a whistle or even an air horn. Any type of loud noise should scare them away.

Why are coyotes so close to my house? ›

If you have coyotes near your property, it's because they can find easily accessible food there (commonly out of garbage cans or dumpsters). The best ways to prevent coyotes and other wildlife from making your yard a buffet include: Clearing your yard of pet food, berries, fallen fruit, and other food sources.

What are coyotes afraid of? ›

In truth, coyotes are afraid of people, objects thrown in their direction, loud noisemakers and sounds, bright lights, and predator urine. All of these can help to repel and deter coyotes from your property.

Will coyotes growl at you? ›

Aggressive behavior toward people can be abnormal. Aggressive coyotes would include individuals that will not run from people and that growl or bark when approached.

Should you howl back at coyotes? ›

It's an effective way to arouse coyotes to investigate." Although a howl may pique a coyote's interest, you still may need to appeal to their stomach to draw some coyotes into shooting range. If howls don't draw a response, especially after a few minutes of waiting, ring the dinner bell.

Why do dogs bark when coyotes howl? ›

Barking is the most obvious sign, as your dog may be in protective mode and lets the coyote know to keep their distance. This is something coyotes prefer to do in close proximity to humans, so generally, conflict is averted.

How do farmers keep coyotes away? ›

Wire mesh fences at least five feet high are the most effective fences to keep coyotes away. A coyote roller — which can be purchased or made cheaply with PVC piping — can also be added to the top of the fence to keep them from being able to jump over.

What are coyotes weaknesses? ›

Swift, tough and wily, the coyote has only 2 known weaknesses: it sleeps heavily and looks back while fleeing, both of which the savvy hunter can take advantage of.

How do you know when a coyote is going to hunt? ›

Time of Day: Coyotes are nocturnal hunters by nature, making dawn and dusk the optimal hunting times as they head out in search of food. Night hunting is also becoming more popular as this is the time when coyotes tend to be most active, however their activity during the day increases as it gets colder.

What is the best way to attract coyotes? ›

Utilizing long lasting, stationary bait such as the coyote baitsicle, or even a dead deer, is a great way to bait for coyote.

How long do you let a coyote call play? ›

Some like to call up to 30 minutes. I rarely stay on stand for any longer than that. I've only called a few coyotes after the 20 minute mark, it can be done, but most come within 15 minutes.

What is the best way to bait coyotes? ›

Leftover deer carcasses and road kill are excellent canine baits, though many states do not allow for the use of wildlife parts. That is why I prefer meat scraps from carcasses of livestock. Local butchers usually have a steady stream of meat scraps and you may even save meat processors money.

What do coyotes like the most? ›

They eat rabbits, carrion (dead animals), rodents, deer (usually fawns), insects (such as grasshoppers), livestock and poultry. Coyotes eat fruit including berries and watermelons. They will also eat cats and dogs.

Why can't I call in coyotes? ›

You may not be using the right sounds at the right time. Coyotes are attracted to certain sounds depending on the season and hunting pressure. In the early season any distress sounds could lure in a coyote, especially adolescents. As the pressure ramps up coyotes could be educated to the sounds of distress.

Why do coyotes pee to mark their territory? ›

Like domestic canines, wild dogs communicate with their associates and their competitors through scent. They mark for dominance and territory and they mark to attract a mate.

Why do ranchers shoot coyotes? ›

The practice of coyote hunting protects livestock, controls populations, and helps farmers and ranchers, along with the ecosystem as a whole. To deer hunters, coyote hunting challenges hunting ability, promotes hunting practice in the off-season, and protects vulnerable wildlife.

Why would a coyote approach a human? ›

This generally occurs when a coyote has been fed (in the form of handouts, pet food left outside, or unsecured garbage). Coyotes who come to depend on these sources of food may begin to approach humans looking for a handout and may begin to exhibit what's perceived as “too tame” or aggressive behavior.

Does dog poop attract coyotes? ›

Pick up after your pet. Dog feces can attract coyotes into your yard.

Can a coyote jump a 6 foot fence? ›

Well, if you want a fence to be an effective coyote deterrent, taller is definitely better. Coyotes have been known to clear six-foot fences. And even if it's too tall to easily jump, coyotes have been known to climb fences seven feet tall (their back legs are quite strong).

Why do coyotes sound like they are fighting? ›

It's an auditory illusion known as the "beau geste" effect, and is due to the variety of sounds produced by a male and female coyote and the way sound gets distorted as it passes through the environment. Basically, two coyotes can sound like seven or eight animals.

What is the best sound to call in a coyote? ›

One of the most popular techniques when using vocals is to start off a stand with some coyote howls, wait a few minutes and then begin playing distress sounds. A simple distressed rabbit call seems to still be the go-to sound above any other.

What sounds are coyotes afraid of? ›

  • Yelling and waving your arms while approaching the coyote.
  • Noisemakers: Voice, whistles, air horns, bells, “shaker” cans full of marbles or pennies, pots, lid or pie pans banged together.
  • Projectiles: sticks, small rocks, cans, tennis balls or rubber balls.

Why do coyotes surround you? ›

A coyote who does not run away when encountering humans has, most likely, become accustomed or habituated to people. This generally occurs when a coyote has been fed (in the form of handouts, pet food left outside, or unsecured garbage).

What is the fastest way to attract coyotes? ›

Utilizing long lasting, stationary bait such as the coyote baitsicle, or even a dead deer, is a great way to bait for coyote.

What months are coyotes most active? ›

When are coyotes most active? Coyotes are not strictly nocturnal. They may be observed during the day, but are generally more active after sunset and at night. You may see and hear coyotes more during mating season (January - March) and when the young are dispersing from family groups (October - January).

How do coyotes talk to each other? ›

Coyotes use howling as a means of communication and to establish territory. Howling can also serve to bring members of a pack together and coordinate hunting efforts. The sound of a coyote howling can travel long distances, often several miles, making it an effective way for coyotes to communicate over large areas.

What animal screams like a human at night? ›

Male limpkins are well known for producing a repetitive, high-pitched wail or scream that sounds remarkably human-like when it wakes you up in the dead of night.

Do whistles scare coyotes? ›

The Department of Wildlife also says to bring a noisemaker with you on your walks whether it be a whistle or even an air horn. Any type of loud noise should scare them away.


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