Today is the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox – Imbolc – the Gaelic traditional festival that marks the beginning of spring. Here’s an early sign of spring to look for now: marks of red and yellow liquid against the snow. Elongated oval tracks with fine claw marks nearby give a clue to who left the marks. What is the story?

Coyotes are now in the peak of their breeding season. The red mark is the female coyote’s urine tinged with blood – a sign that she is coming into estrus. A female coyote is in estrus for only two to five days in a year, but courtship often begins two to three months prior. The yellow mark is likely a male scent marking with urine. Usually the female initiates the scent-marking, and the male will smell her urine and add his own. At this time of year, also keep an ear out for duet coyote howling!

Larry Lamsa, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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