COYOTE! A brief NYC History of a Large Urban Predator 1994-2019

Updated: Feb 28, 2020


Coyote crossing the frozen lake in Central Park on 7 February 2010 - Deborah Allen

27 March 2019 - COYOTES of NYC

Bird Notes: we start our spring bird walk schedule this week: Friday at 9am (Conservatory Garden); Saturday and Sunday morning at 7:30am and 9:30am (Boathouse Cafe.) Monday walks will begin 8 April (8am/9am). Please consult the Schedule page of this web site for more details. In late April through mid-May, we will be adding Tuesday and Thursday evening walks starting at 6pm, led by Ms. Sandra Critelli.

The talk of the town these last few days has been about NYC Coyotes, and not birds, because of our sighting on the Sunday (24 March) bird walk. See Deborah's photo below of the first Central Park Coyote since 2010 (the latter's photo is above, also by D. Allen).

I first became aware of Coyotes in NYC when I found one resting in the woods of Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx in circa summer 1996. These Canids appeared in NYC at about the same time that Deer and American Turkeys established themselves in some of our parks - and the once common Ring-necked Pheasant disappeared. To get to the Bronx was simple: walk south on the tracks of the MetroNorth train from the suburbs to the northern reaches of the city. But Coyotes have also been spotted at Breezy Point (Queens), and even further east on Long Island - so they are also crossing major bridges. Indeed coyotes have been seen just outside both the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels in Manhattan (mentioned in Historical articles below). From my point of view, Coyotes can have a detrimental effect upon predatory birds, particularly nesting Great Horned Owls and other large raptors: Coyotes eat the same food (rats, squirrels, rabbits, ducks), and in larger quantity.

In our Historical Notes we send reports of Coyotes in NYC mostly from 2010 to the present. The earliest articles from 2006-2009 cast the Coyote as a potentially dangerous animal hidden in our midst. Since then, the media and public's perception has changed: "How do they survive in NYC? How can I see one?" Somewhere in the middle view is the NYC government who will tolerate Coyotes in the outer boros - Coyotes raise pups annually in Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx at a know location. On the other hand, the appearance of a Coyote in Manhattan still sets off a "posse" mentality and stampede to catch the outlaw Canid at all costs. We present a range of views below.

The most complete list of popular and scientific articles about Coyotes in NYC and Long Island: https://tinyurl.com/y3cgnuhc

Coyote first seen by William Perro and Deborah Allen on the bird walk of Sunday, 24 March 2019. The Coyote is climbing the rocks just below Belvedere Castle - photographed by Deborah Allen from the Dock on Turtle Pond.



Good! Here are the bird walks for late March

All Bird Walks in Central Park - $10

1. Friday, 29 March at 9am - meet at Conservatory Garden (105th st./5Ave)

2.***Saturday, 30 March at 9:30am - meet at the Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park. 3.***Sunday, 31 March at 9:30am - meet at the Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park.

*** On mornings when two walks are scheduled, you can do both walks for $10/person...you get two for one. OR you can do either the 7:30am or the 9:30am for $10... The Boathouse Restaurant is located at 74th street and the East Drive within the park.




Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/ya65n5a8

Any questions send them our way: rdcny@earthlink.net or call: 718-828-8262 (home)


A statue at Van Cortlandt Park commemorating a female killed on the Deegan Expressway in 1995. Credit Richard Perry/The New York Times

A statue at Van Cortlandt Park [Bronx] commemorating a female coyote killed on the Deegan Expressway in 1995. NYC's first Coyote was seen in Woodlawn Cemetery (Bronx) in 1994. Richard Perry/The New York Times


The fine print: On Saturdays and Sundays, our walks meet at 7:30am and again at 9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant (approx. 74th street and the East Drive). Please note: the Boathouse is not one of the buildings that surround the nearby Model Boat Pond - people make this mistake all the time!. On Fridays we meet at Conservatory Garden (105th street and 5th Avenue - walk down the steps and walk straight ahead for the far side. If worried, ask someone to direct you to the men's restroom - we meet 10 meters from that location. On Mondays we are at Strawberry Fields - meet at the Imagine Mosaic - that is approx. 72nd street about 40 meters inside the park from Central Park West. On Thursdays we meet at the Dock on Turtle Pond - for all of these meeting locations check this web site - there is a full page devoted to meeting locations!

Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is above (rdcny@earthlink.net). If you are lost and trying to get to the bird walk, call Deborah's cell phone...but remember on weekends there will be 2-3 other people calling who are also lost - please be patient! If in doubt about whether a walk will take place or not the morning of the walk: check the main landing page of this web site as well as the "Schedule" page - if the walk is cancelled, information will be posted there by 6am the day of the walk, and usually by 11pm the night before. If still confused and as a last resort, call us at home - if no one answers it means we left for the bird walk! We end all our walks (except Fridays) at the Boathouse at about noon; you can get a cup of coffee and a muffin there (around $6 total). Walks last about 3 hrs (less if hot or rainy), and you can leave at anytime - we won't be offended. If you need directions/help to your next destination, just ask someone on the walk - we are a helpful group.

Snow Goose at the north end of Central Park (Harlem Meer) by Deborah Allen on 24 March 2019


Here is what we saw last weekend (brief highlights)


Sat-Sun 23-24 March (Boathouse Restaurant at 9:30am) - forget about Saturday - that was a complete disaster. Why? Winds were steady 25-30mph with gusts to 45mph...and it was cold (45f) and overcast mostly. We were blown around the Ramble and if it wasn't for Matthew Benoit PhD finding an Eastern Phoebe near the Summer House (Ramble), we could have asked, "Why are we here? Who thought of this walk?"

The weather on Sunday had improved: the winds were gone and the skies were sunny. As I list the best sightings, most people would believe it was an amazing walk: Bill Perro spotted two adult Bald Eagles chasing one another over Fifth Avenue just over the tree-tops. We first caught sight of them at about 75th street, and watched them come up (and then disappear) at 79th street. One eagle headed east and then north; while the other adult must have headed west toward the Lake because all the Northern Shoveler Ducks flew over our heads at the south end of the Great Lawn and made rapidly north for the Reservoir. A few minutes later, at the Dock on Turtle Pond while part of the group were discussing foxes in NYC, Bill Perro (and Deborah to be fair) saw what looked to be a German shepherd dog climbing the rocks below Belvedere Castle. It was a Coyote, the second one we have seen on our walks (the previous was in early February 2010). Here is a story about the sighting: https://tinyurl.com/yy4abb93

A big thank You to Bill Perro who saved an otherwise uneventful Sunday walk with two great sightings... Deborah Allen's List of Birds for Sat-Sun, 23-24 March: http://tinyurl.com/y6cbhpnj


Snow Goose at the north end of Central Park (Harlem Meer lawn) by Deborah Allen on 24 March 2019

HISTORICAL NOTES - COYOTES in NYC

Coyote at Breezy Point (Queens) photographed by Don Riepe in Winter 2004

Coyote at Breezy Point (Queens) photographed by Don Riepe in Winter 2004



Why Coyotes Are Flourishing in New York City

Jen Kirby

May 20, 2015

New York Magazine

urban fauna

Since 1995, coyotes have been seen in every borough but Brooklyn.

When a coyote turned up in Middle Village, Queens, on April 27, it was generally received as a freakish incident — but it wasn’t even the first sighting of 2015. This spring alone, the animals have appeared in Battery Park City, loping around the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in Chelsea, and on the roof of a bar in Long Island City. Like so many predators, they may be better suited to the urban environment than you’d expect.


How Many Are There?

The Queens sighting (see account below) is the latest in a burst of activity. But the first New York coyote in living memory was reported in 1995, when one ran onto the Major Deegan and was hit by a car. Since then, they’ve been seen in every borough but Brooklyn. Chris Nagy and Mark Weckel, scientists who run the Gotham Coyote Project, put the permanent population in the high teens.

Their Urban Habits

Coyotes are not strictly nocturnal, but in urban settings they quickly shift to living by night, allowing them to explore and hunt in relative quiet. “They’re wandering, and [suddenly] all the people wake up and these cars start driving around,” Nagy says, explaining how they turn up abruptly on residential streets. “They’re stuck.”

Well, Technically, They’re Not All Coyote

What we get here are called “coywolf” — about a third Eastern or red wolf, plus a lot of coyote and, sometimes, some ordinary dog thrown into the genetic mix. Coywolf do well here, explains Jonathan Way, a researcher and founder of Coywolf Research, because they eat small mammals, like rabbits and rats, and nearly all their natural competitors, like cougars and bobcats, are gone. They are a sort of predator-gentrifier of the East Coast, and their next turf is Long Island, which they — like most immigrants — may eventually reach through the city.

And Where Are They?

Motion-detecting coyote cams installed by Nagy and Weckel have established that they live in four parks: Van Cortlandt, Pelham Bay, Ferry Point (all in the Bronx), and Railroad Park (in Queens). Human observers have seen them in Central and Riverside parks as well as Battery Park City, La Guardia Airport, Co-op City, and even Stuy Town. In 2010, one was spotted by the Holland Tunnel and captured after a wacky chase through Tribeca.









Motion-detecting cameras have located coyotes in four New York parks.