A relative of the domesticated dog, the coyote exhibits many similar features. Its coat varies from grayish brown to yellowish gray on the upper parts with a nearly white throat and belly. A black dorsal stripe and stiff, pointed ears distinguish it from the common dog. The coyote is larger than the fox and smaller than the wolf, both of which are close relatives.
Coyotes are capable of runnng at speeds up to 65 km/hr and are good swimmers. They are the most vocal of all North American wild mammals and though their sight is poor, they have acute hearing and sense of smell. Coyotes are essentially nocturnal so a sighting in Sunriver is rare. If you hope to see one, the best time is at dusk during periods when Sunriver is not full of people. While they can be found in nearly all areas, the best location is in or near the Great Meadow.
A coyote will eat just about anything. They are primarily carnivorous with nearly 90% of their diet comprised of other mammals. However, they may occasionally eat birds, snakes, leaves, fruits, and vegetables (the latter in months when prey may be scarce). They prefer fresh meat, but consume large amounts of carrion.
Courtship lasts for two to three months and ends with mating between late January and late March. Once the female chooses a partner, the two may remain paired for a number of years, but not necessarily for life. The den may be dug by the coyote but is often an enlarged woodchuck or badger burrow. Dens are used year after year. Two months after mating, the pups are born. Litter size ranges from one to 19, but the average is six.