Coyote Yipping: Why Do Coyotes Yip?

Coyotes are very intelligent, fast, opportunistic, and loud. Because of their intelligence, coyotes can generate a complex vocal system of about 11 different blends of yips, yelps, and howls. What’s more, each tone represents a different call sign. At night, we often hear them howl and yip. But then, what does it really mean when we hear coyotes yipping? Does it mean that they are preparing to attack or just playing around? Well… in this article, we’ll analyze every call sign that coyotes make, especially coyote tipping.

READ MORE: Do Coyotes Bark Like Dogs?

Why Do Coyotes Yip?

Coyote yipping

Yes, coyotes yip. This yipping sound is one of the many call signs they have. But among all the sounds that coyotes make, the yipping sound is one of the most common ones that we do hear. This is because coyote yipping sounds are used as long-range call signs.

Oftentimes when coyotes yip, they do so to establish a comm line with one another. At other times, coyotes also yip to mark off their territory. So, with the yipping sound, coyotes tend to scare off both timid and fearsome intruders alike. Sometimes, they even use the yipping sound to communicate personal safety to the pack. But compared to other call signs that coyotes make, the yipping sounds are used for long-distance communication and deception.

Do Coyotes Yip to Attract Their Food?

Coyotes, like wolves and lions, are predators. Add to that, coyotes are even omnivores. But in their predator shell, coyotes would rather prefer hunting silently. This is because stealth hunting helps to reduce the risk of driving their prey away. Since they hunt small and sensitive animals like rabbits, any noise would result in miss targeting.

But the thing is, coyotes do make some kind of sounds after a kill. This sound is not a yip. Instead, it’s a coyote howl. And coyotes make this after-kill howling to alert other members of their packs of the newly-won carcass trophy. In fact, if the lone coyote had its way, it would remain silent even after a kill to avoid drawing the attention of other animals not of their pack. So, it’s a no, no; coyotes don’t yip to attract their food in any way.

What Does Coyote Yipping Sound Like? 

Coyote yipping is a high-pitched call sign. Different people describe this coyote yipping in different ways. But in general, coyote yipping sounds more like an intermittent blend of bark from a dog, a howl from a wolf, and the morning crow of a cock.

Some other people even say they hear the screeching of an owl and the bark of a dog when coyotes yip. But regardless of the description, coyotes don’t make a yip without a howl.

Generally, though, coyotes have two different modes of yipping; the single yip-howl and the group yip-howl. When a single coyote yips, it makes a blend of barks, howls, and yips. Oftentimes, these single yipping sounds are less audible and wavy. In most cases, coyotes produce the single yip-howl when they’re provoked by intruders and need to call others to the battle.

On the flip side, coyotes can also make groups or multiple yip-howls. Of course, this call sign is generated by a pack of coyotes. It is often initiated by the alpha coyotes, followed by the beta and the big pups. In the end, the group yip-howl sounds more like a katzenjammer or bowwow of howls and barks, oozing out from all areas. Because of that, the group yip-howl sounds like it’s coming from hundreds of coyotes. But then, such a phenomenon known as the beau geste effect can simply be produced by just a few coyotes to give false impressions of numbers.

Now, the yipping and howling sounds can travel about 1,000 yards. On calm nights, you should be able to hear coyotes vocalizing about 3 miles away. Although during the group yip-howl, coyotes sound much closer than their actual distance.

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What Sounds Do Coyotes Make When They Attack?

Indeed, coyotes are highly-vocal animals. At the same time, they are also predators aspiring to always be at the top of the food chain.  Oftentimes, when top predators attack, they do so with great stealth. The reason why they do this is to catch their prey unaware. Now, like these predators, coyotes also attack with stealth. At other times, these coyotes also attack with very strident noises.

But then, the thing is, coyotes attack other animals including humans and pets for three main reasons; predation, defense, and territoriality. When coyotes are hungry or need to feed the baby coyotes, they launch predatory attacks. These attacks are usually done with great stealth to avoid losing their prey. On the flip side, coyotes launch defensive attacks when they feel threatened.

During such defensive attacks, coyotes back their tough looks with loud yips, yaps, barks, yelps, and howls. In fact, sometimes, when they feel like they are in smaller numbers compared to the invaders, they even try to produce a beau geste. This beau geste is a yipping sound produced by a small pack of coyotes. But then to other animals including humans, the beau geste feels like a sound coming from a very large pack of coyotes.

Like the defensive attacks, territorial attacks by coyotes are even more raucous. Because oftentimes, coyotes launch territorial attacks against other coyotes or other vocal animals like wolves and foxes. The species that would win will be the one with the loudest bark and the greatest strength. Since coyotes are weaker, smaller, and lighter than adult wolves, they tend to make up for that with loud, high-pitched blends of sounds.

READ MORE: How to get rid of crickets.

What Does It Mean When a Bunch of Coyotes Starts Howling?

Let’s make this clear cut; coyotes, like wolves, live in small packs; about 4 – 6 members. Although, their howling and yipping sound can tell you otherwise. Sometimes, the members venture out to hunt alone.  When any of them make a kill, it begins to howl to alert the others of its location. Such howls can pierce the air over several yards. When they meet, they howl in packs to celebrate the family reunion.

At other times, coyotes also howl in packs to signal territoriality. You see, coyotes may live in territory claimed by their pack. But close by, other coyote families live therein. When one pack notices a trespasser, they howl to scare it off and back to its pack. This same group howling is also applicable when parent coyotes are trying to defend their pups.

What Do Coyote Sounds Mean?

Aside from howling, coyotes can produce other sounds. Some of these sounds are deceptive. Some others are actual call signs that coyotes produce when they mean business. So, if you live in areas with an alarming increase in coyote encroachment, familiarizing yourself with the call signs and their meaning isn’t a bad idea. In fact, in certain cases, this knowledge can even help save a life.

To help with that, we’ve compiled, in this article, a synoptic list of coyote vocalizations and their meanings:

  1. Woof – Oftentimes when coyotes woof, they do so to ward off intruders that threaten them. However, unlike the other coyote call signs used this way, coyote woofs have very low intensity and pitches. Hence, the woofs are used only for short-range communications.
  2. Growl – Growls are of higher intensity and pitches compared to the coyote woofs. These coyote growls are used to threaten intruders. This is similar to the dog growling. But sometimes, coyotes also use their growls to alert other coyotes in their packs of impending danger.
  3. Huff – Like the woof, coyotes huff to threaten intruders within a close distance. But unlike the woof, the huffs come as a puff of air oozing out from the nose and mouth of the coyote.
  4. Lone Howl – This is a call sign produced by a single coyote. Oftentimes, the lone howl starts as with barks. They use it to reach out to other members of their packs. So, a single coyote uses it to find its way home.
  5. Group Yip-Howl – The group yip-howl is a deceptive call sign produced by a small pack of coyotes. Oftentimes, they make a false impression of their numbers. At other times, they use it as an echo-locator for other coyotes.
  6. Yelp – Like wolves, coyotes have a pack system that has the alpha, betas, and the like. This yelping sound is used by other caste members to signal submission. Oftentimes, yelps are produced at high pitches.
  7. Whine – Coyotes whine to show a range of emotions like submission, pain, distress, and even hunger. For now, we can’t tag them for a particular reason.
  8. Woo-oo-ow – this call sign is for greeting. Oftentimes, it is produced at high intensity.
  9. Bark – Coyote barks to initiate a threat signal to an intruder within a close range. It is usually produced at high intensities and blended with other call signs.
  10. Scream – Sometimes, coyotes tend to vocalize like a screaming woman when they’re wounded. So, a coyote screaming is like a call from a “damsel in distress.”

Why Do Coyotes Yip During the Day?

Normally, coyotes are most active at night and shortly after sunset. Likewise, their activity increases during mating seasons; from January to March. During these periods, the yipping sounds are more pronounced. However, more recently, people have begun to report hearing coyotes yip during the day. Well… the reason is that coyotes are evolving to live around humans as urban coyotes.

You see, these urban coyotes get disturbed by human activities like noises from cars, police sirens, and industrial engines. So, during the day when it’s sleeping time for coyotes, these noises wake them up. Oftentimes, coyotes interpret these noises as threats. As such, they yip as coordinated responses.

In North America, people label coyotes as song dogs. This is because, like dogs, they can bark. In addition to barking, coyotes can also howl, yip, yap, and produce about 7 other call signs. Among these call signs, coyote yipping is the most common. When a coyote yips, it means that they are trying to raise long-distance alarms to their packs of impending dangers. Likewise, coyotes yip to defend their territory.

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