Drama on Niles Pond

niles pond drama

While walking very early by Niles Pond one morning recently, the peace and serenity of the place was suddenly shattered by the persistent distressed crying of a duck at the far wooded end of the pond.  I looked for her and the cause of her distress, but it took some time to locate her in the reeds.  Then I saw the reason for her mournful cries.  This coyote had apparently gotten her mate and possibly her babies as well.  I couldn’t see what he was feeding on, but her cries made it obvious that it was something very dear to her, and since there was no mate at her side, I assumed he must have been watching the nest while she went out to feed and was caught unawares by the coyote.

When I started photographing, both he and the duck looked in my direction.  He seemed to know I was too far away to be of any concern to him, so he yawned and went on about his business.  The duck however kept looking in my direction and crying, as though pleading with me to do something.  My heart went out to that poor devastated creature.  I know coyotes need to eat, and it is better for him to feed on a duck than someone’s pet cat or dog, but it still made for a sad start to my day, and a much sadder start for her’s.  The coyote however was satisfied.

E.J. Lefavour



  • I’m so sorry E.J–what a terrible way to start the day.


    • Yes, it was pretty sad. While I don’t begrudge coyotes food for themselves and their young, I wish they would just eat rats – the only animal I can think of that I wouldn’t feel quite so bad about seeing eaten.


  • Nice pix.
    The coyotes seem pretty active. One ran across my lawn this morning. Of course my camera was upstairs. Take special care of your pets. Lucy’s off leash days in the garden are over for now.


    • Yes Marty, they do seem to be particularly active recently. They must have pups to feed. I heard the most godawful cries in the middle of the night on the low tide flats of Smiths Cove when a Canada Goose was caught, I assume by a coyote although I didn’t see it happen, just heard it. We used to have a good population of cats on Rocky Neck – now there are only indoor cats and a few very fast and clever outdoor cats. Coyotes are being seen more and more often in broad daylight strolling down our streets, so I wouldn’t leave any small pet outside unsupervised.


  • I live in the Wingaersheek area and have seen many foxes during the early morning, I have a small dog and she’s always on a leash.


  • Great shots! I agree it’s not how a good start to a day.


  • Off to a rough start in the morning but keen eye and caught the coyote. Out west they tend to walk the shores and riverbanks when the Rio Grande was moe than the trickle it is now due to drought – Coyotes as they know many birds and duck’s geese stay close to water pretty easy to flush them out and true to form will not abandon nest until it’s to late rarely get away. Coyotes seem to be moving in more and more – I don’t recall them too often in 60’s saw lots of foxes but mostly in the woods not around houses. Did have a lot of squirrels and racoons…Very good observations by all above…Thanks EJ Dave & KIm :-):-)


  • great shots, EJ and your compassionate commentary moving, too. I feel the same way for the fowl in Magnolia by Clarke Pond…The ducks are adorable, but every so often fate takes a turn (or a fast car here) and changes everything. That we are all aware of the beautiful creatures around us is most important. Thank you for sharing your experience.


  • A week ago I found a dead cygnet early morning at the edge of niles pond. I don’t know what happened to it. It had a 2 inch gash on its belly near the inner thigh. I buried the poor thing. Last night something got another cygnet. I suspect coyotes, I heard them yipping near the swans resting spot. This morning there were a bunch of white feathers. Now there is only one cygnet left. As much as I love the swans I wish they would nest someplace else, niles pond is not a safe place for them.

    On another note, the coyotes here are not afraid of people. I have had them in my yard going after my two med/large size dogs. My dogs were aggressive and the coyote did not back down. The coyote stood a foot in front of me growling. I grabbed both dogs by the collars and ran into my house. It stayed in the yard even while I was yelling and screaming at it. Very very scary.


    • I am really sorry to hear that. I knew that one of the cygnets had been taken. I photographed the two of them a couple of days ago, and they had gotten large enough that I thought they were safe from snapping turtles anyway. The aggressiveness of the coyotes toward you and your dogs is alarming. A similar incident happened here on Rocky Neck, where the coyote brazenly strutted down the street while being yelled at, as though he could care less, and then sat down under a street light and glared back at his aggressor. It wasn’t until some unknown driver headed directly at him that he ran away. They are part of the wildlife here on Cape Ann and need to eat, but being aggressive toward us and our pets is unnecessary and unacceptable. There is plenty of wildlife for them to eat (unfortunately cute bunnies, swans, geese and ducks are included on their menu) for them be able to cohabitate peacefully with us and leave our cats and dogs alone.


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