My Coyote Friends: Coexist with Love

Good morning!

What an absolutely magical surprise!

This is the first color video of my nightly visitor. It was about 6:00 a.m. Isn’t he absolutely gorgeous?

In this black and white video, there are now two coyotes and since we know they mate for life, I have my fingers crossed waiting to see if they bring me any grandchildren! Wouldn’t that be amazing?

Some coyote facts:

Urban coyotes can create territories out of a patchwork of parks and green spaces.

While many urban coyotes make their homes in large parks or forest preserves, this isn’t the case in all situations. Urban coyotes don’t need one cohesive piece of green space like a single park or a single golf course to call home. They manage to make do with surprisingly small patches of hunt-able land woven together as a whole territory.

Coyotes can thrive in a small territory if there is enough food and shelter, but if there isn’t — such as in sections of a city with only a handful of small parks, soccer fields, green spaces and the like — then they will expand the size of their territory to include enough places to hunt for food to sustain themselves. The size of an urban coyote’s range is dependent on the abundance of food and can be anywhere from two square miles to ten square miles or more. Urban coyotes tend to have smaller territory sizes than rural coyotes because there is so much more food packed into smaller areas, even if that area has only a few scattered parks.

Studies have shown that coyotes much prefer forested areas and large parks where they can steer clear of humans, and they try to avoid residential areas. But when that’s not available, they still figure out how to make do. In a large-scale study of urban coyotes by the Urban Coyote Research Program, it was discovered that “29 percent of collared coyotes have home ranges composed of less than 10 percent of natural land and 8 percent having no measurable patches of natural land within their home ranges.”

Urban coyotes may live in family packs or on their own at different points in their lives.

It’s common to see a single coyote hunting or traveling on its own, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is alone. Coyotes are highly social animals and this didn’t change when they entered the urban ecosystem. Coyotes may live as part of a pack, which usually consists of an alpha male and female, perhaps one or two of their offspring from previous seasons (known as a “helper”) and their current litter of pups. The pack may also welcome in a solitary traveler if their territory can support another member. Packs living in sizable protected areas can have as many as five or six adults in addition to that season’s pups.

However, a coyote may also spend part of its life on its own, known as a solitary coyote. This is common when young coyotes disperse from their pack and go in search of their own territory, a new pack to join, or a mate with whom to start their own pack. A coyote may also spend a stretch of time as a loner if it was an alpha in a pack but lost its mate. According to Urban Coyote Research Program, between a third and half of coyotes under study are solitary coyotes, and they are usually youngsters between six months and two years old.

Because coyotes hunt and travel alone or in pairs, it is often thought that they don’t form packs. The study of urban coyotes has helped to correct this misconception and has revealed much about the social lives of coyotes.

Urban coyotes mate for life and are monogamous.

Speaking of mates, coyotes mate for life and are 100 percent faithful to that mate. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Mammalogy found that “among 18 litters comprising 96 offspring, [researchers] found no evidence of polygamy, and detected a single instance of a double litter (pups from different parents sharing the same den).”

This loyalty holds even when there are other coyotes in adjacent territories and plenty of opportunity for cheating. But coyote pairs stay faithful and faithful for life. Some of the pairs followed by the research team were together for as long as 10 years, only moving on when one mate died.

The researchers believe that this monogamy plays an important role in the success of urban coyotes. Because a female can adjust her litter size based on the availability of food and other factors, she can have larger litters of pups in a city where there is a buffet of rodents, reptiles, fruits, vegetables and so much else in a relatively small area. She also has a dedicated mate to help her feed and raise the pups, so these large litters have a higher survival rate, resulting in more coyotes reaching an age to disperse to other areas of a city.

Even when food is less abundant or there is territory pressure from other coyotes, the couple stays together year after year. Coyotes may be opportunistic about matters of food and shelter, but not when it comes to love.

Urban coyotes do not feast on pets and garbage; they typically stick to a natural diet.

Due to sensationalistic reporting, many urban residents think all coyotes are out to eat their dog or cat at the first opportunity, or that they’re dumpster divers of the first degree. On the contrary, studies have shown that urban coyotes stick mainly to a natural diet.

Coyotes are opportunistic omnivores and will eat fruits and vegetables along with animal prey.  A study by Urban Coyote Research Program analyzed over 1,400 scats and found that “the most common food items were small rodents (42%), fruit (23%), deer (22%), and rabbit (18%).” Only about 2 percent of the scats had human garbage and just 1.3 percent showed evidence of cats. “Apparently, the majority of coyotes in our study area do not, in fact, rely on pets or garbage for their diets,” say the researchers.

This aligns logically with urban coyotes’ preference of sticking to parks, preserves, cemeteries, and other out-of-the-way areas as much as possible. The food available in these locations is rodents, reptiles, fallen fruit and other food items that are part of a natural diet.

Coyotes of course take feral cats or the occasional domestic cat that has been left outdoors, and there is certainly evidence that coyotes that have become habituated and overly bold will go after small dogs. However pets are not primary prey for them, not by a long shot.

As it is with the presence of apex predators in any ecosystem, having coyotes living and thriving in an urban area is a positive sign of the health and biodiversity of urban areas. Their presence can be considered a thumbs-up for the quality of a city’s urban ecology.© Jaymi Heimbuch / Urban Coyote Initiative

Urban coyotes often switch from naturally diurnal and crepuscular activity to nocturnal activity.

When urban residents see coyotes “in broad daylight” it is often assumed that the coyote has grown overly bold or is ill in some way. Actually, it is perfectly normal for a coyote to be out during the day, as this is their natural time for hunting.

Urban coyotes have made a behavior change to avoid humans, switching from being active at dawn and dusk or during daylight hours, to being mostly active at night. This strategy lowers their risk of encountering a species of which they are naturally afraid while still hunting in an urban territory.

However, if a coyote needs to be out during the day to hunt or to get from one place to another, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong or odd about the coyote’s behavior. In fact, in the spring and summer when raising their pups, coyotes need to find more food and so may be more active during the day and thus spotted more often. Urban residents frequently misinterpret daytime sightings as a rise in the urban coyote population or that the coyote could be rabid, neither of which are usually true.

Urban coyotes help control the populations of other problematic urban wildlife like rodents.

It’s so easy to think of urban places as home to humans, pigeons, crows and raccoons, and that’s about it. But our cities are increasingly home to an ever more diverse array of wildlife species rats have been an issue in cities ever since cities were invented. Coyotes play a role in limiting the populations of these species and more, helping to keep a balance and increase biodiversity in urban ecosystems.

Rodents are the primary food source for coyotes in rural and urban areas alike, and studies have shown an increase in the rodent population in areas where coyotes are removed.

The easiest way for city residents to avoid negative interactions with coyotes is to avoid feeding them, either accidentally or on purpose, and otherwise habituating them to humans.

When coyotes become overly bold or aggressive, and in the rare instances when coyotes have bitten humans, it usually is discovered that they were being fed.

Coyotes have a natural fear of humans, and like most wildlife, will start to lose that fear and even become aggressive if they are being fed. This is the reason wildlife managers warn people to never feed wildlife, and there is the saying, “A fed coyote is a dead coyote.”

Once a coyote loses its fear, it is likely to become a problem animal and that means animal control will have little choice but to lethally remove it.

Feeding coyotes sometimes happens on purpose, but it can also be done accidentally when people leave pet food on their porches intending it for cats or dogs, when they leave scattered seeds under the bird feeder, or even when they leave fallen fruit or compost in their yards.

Educating the public on the importance of not feeding wildlife and removing any food sources, as well as educating them on safe and humane coyote hazing strategies to maintain coyotes’ fear of humans, is the best way a city can avoid negative interactions and instead enjoy quiet coexistence.

People often feed urban coyotes accidently by leaving out pet food, open compost bins, fallen fruit and other tasty morsels for these opportunistic eaters to find. © Jaymi Heimbuch / Urban Coyote Initiative

Trapping and killing or relocating urban coyotes does not reduce the overall population of coyotes.

A common reaction from urban and suburban residents when they learn coyotes are living in their area is to ask for the removal of the coyotes, either through lethal means or by trapping and relocating them. However, animal control officers have learned through a lot of experience that this is not only a lot harder to do than it sounds, but it does nothing to reduce the number of coyotes living in an area. In fact, it has the opposite effect.

Coyotes are territorial and keep other coyotes out of their home range. The larger the territory of a coyote pack, the fewer coyotes are present overall. Removing coyotes from an area opens that location up for new coyotes to come in and claim it as their own (and there will always be more coyotes coming in to fill a void), often resulting in a short-term increase in coyotes as the territory lines are redrawn by the newcomers. Additionally, when there is less pressure from neighboring coyotes and more food available, female coyotes will have larger litters of pups, again creating a short-term increase in the number of coyotes in that area.

There are other problems with trapping coyotes. As the Humane Society points out, “The most common devices used to capture coyotes are leg-hold traps and neck snares. Both can cause severe injuries, pain, and suffering. Leg-hold traps are not only cruel and inhumane for coyotes, but may also injure other wildlife, pets, or even children. Non-target wild animals are also caught in traps, and many sustain injuries so severe that they die or must be killed.”

If a city wants to limit or reduce the number of urban coyotes living there, the easiest thing to do is allow existing coyotes to work out their own territories, naturally stabilizing the coyote population. There will never be more coyotes in an ecosystem than that ecosystem can support, so (despite what some may think) a city can never become “overpopulated” or “infested” with coyotes.

We can take extra steps to make an area less appealing to coyotes by removing all extra food sources – from fallen fruit or ripe vegetables from backyard gardens to pet food left on back porches – and removing sources of water. The fewer resources available, the larger the territories need to be to support the resident coyotes, and the fewer coyotes there are overall.

Coyotes are here to stay and removing them is not and will never be an option. Our one and only path forward is coexistence. https://urbancoyoteinitiative.com

Learn more about coyotes and support the great work of Projectcoyote.com

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Cats, Rats, and Bats

Sorry, no pics to share ‘cos the video is grainy and black and white, but these were my three visitors last night at Casa de Enchanted Seashells.

In that order. The first video shows a cat sitting on the steps, looks to be dark gray and I’ve seen him before. The next is of a very large rat running down the steps, and the third one is a bat flying directly across the camera lens.

It sounds like it could be the start of a joke…”A cat, a rat, and a bat walked into a bar…” (Although I have no idea what kind of a punchline to write. Maybe Mrs. Maisel or Suzie could help.)

Or a children’s book, “The Tall Tale (Tail) of the Cat, the Rat, and the Bat”,

Or as Theo would say, “Grandma, that rhymes!”

Since I don’t have any decent pics of last night’s guests, here’s our beloved Bandit who ruled us all for thirteen years before she died of chronic renal failure.

The bat is from one of my favorite books, Stellaluna, by (my friend) Janell Cannon.

Image result for stellaluna

And the rat, well, this gif says it all…

(There were no coyotes this time, but I’m happy to report that I’ve been seeing TWO beautiful creatures in the garden, which is awesome as coyotes mate for life. I would be even happier if one day they brought some little ones to visit. It would be a dream come true. I could be their grandma, too!)

My Fave FOUR-letter Word

What do you think it is?

Nope, not that.

Not even close…

It’s SCAT.

S-C-A-T.

HAHAHA…

I bet you NEVER would’ve guessed that, would you? WOULD YOU?

I took myself on a little hike today to a local spot, and was so happy to see several piles of coyote scat (that’s “poop” for those that don’t know.)

scat

It warms my heart to know that coyotes are still living in this concrete jungle, in spite of the egregious overbuilding here in Carlsbad, that insatiable and sick hunger to remove habitat for any and all living creatures that don’t have the capability to line the pockets of our city leaders–allegedly, of course…

scat1

Another “s” word!

SNAKE!!!

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Facebook friends said it’s harmless; I’m still glad I gave it a wide berth.

 

Destination…top of the hill!IMG_2576

Beautiful oasis even though it’s manmade…Lake Calavara

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Running water!

IMG_2574

Monkey flower and black eyed Susan!

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Cool green unknown plant!

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Pretty spring flowers…

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Happy Pink Moon, everyone!

I had another post planned for today but then this came to my inbox and is way more important to share

Because he doesn’t have a REBLOG button that I could find, The Matticus Kingdom gave me express permission to copy and paste.

The subject is important. The words, raw and beautiful, drip tears of outrage. 

Here’s his post and if you don’t already, follow him!


shameful

Coyote
Image Credit: Mark Boster / LA Times – Click the picture to follow the link to the article that inspired what follows.

The walls and black scars, full of screaming metal, crept across the land,
A progressively greedy excess without permission, balance or order,
And the ancestral paths of the pack were cut and buried asunder,
Forcing them to wander further away from the shifting sand,
To provide their families with food and sheltered dens,
Under the disdainful, entitled, glare of fearful men.

We are supposed to be knowledgeable and civilized,
And should be mindful of our encroachment,
Change our behavior and sentiment,
To achieve the ultimate prize,
And coexist peacefully,
As it should be.

Instead, we condone shooting coyotes with paintballs…

Is that really who we have become?

Heed the Call of the Song Dog: Why Coyotes are Important

coyoteprintlagoonWhen we first moved to Carlsbad in 1985 well before a LOT of indiscriminately built developments encroached upon animal habitats, our street abruptly stopped at a magical and wild hillside covered with sage, buckwheat, and coyote bush. There were deer and bobcats; even a mountain lion sighting now and again.

And always the ubiquitous coyote.

I’ve only spotted them a dozen or so times, but their scat is always present, and the symphony of songs we’ve heard over the years has been part of the joy of living here.

At sunset, at midnight, before sunrise, our lives have been punctuated with yips and howls.

Recently, there’s been one particular voice that belongs to a specific coyote we’ve named “Old Man” because he has a distinctive lower tone, and his signature song is one solitary defined melodious cadence.

It’s an unspoken code between tugboat man and I that if one of us hears a coyote — even in the dead of night — and even if one is asleep, we wake each other so that we can both enjoy it.

What is so amazing about “Old Man” is not only his distinctive voice, but he seems to be located in our yard, and silly or not, we believe he’s communicating with us.

I know. Crazy, right?

That’s one reason why we’re so upset about all the development that willfully destroys their environment: coyotes play a necessary and important role in managing rodents and rabbit over-populations.

COYOTEPIC

Beautiful and intelligent.

I’ve curated some great information about coyotes from Project Coyote and The Natural History of the Urban Coyote in hopes that everyone will learn to love, protect, and respect them as much as we do:

Urban coyotes do not feast on pets and garbage; they typically stick to a natural diet.
Due to sensationalistic reporting, many urban residents think all coyotes are out to eat their dog or cat at the first opportunity, or that they’re dumpster divers of the first degree. On the contrary, studies have shown that urban coyotes stick mainly to a natural diet.

Coyotes are opportunistic omnivores and will eat fruits and vegetables along with animal prey.  A study by Urban Coyote Research Program analyzed over 1,400 scats and found that “the most common food items were small rodents (42%), fruit (23%), deer (22%), and rabbit (18%).” Only about 2 percent of the scats had human garbage and just 1.3 percent showed evidence of cats. “Apparently, the majority of coyotes in our study area do not, in fact, rely on pets or garbage for their diets,” say the researchers.

This aligns logically with urban coyotes’ preference of sticking to parks, preserves, cemeteries, and other out-of-the-way areas as much as possible. The food available in these locations is rodents, reptiles, fallen fruit and other food items that are part of a natural diet.

Coyotes of course take feral cats or the occasional domestic cat that has been left outdoors, and there is certainly evidence that coyotes that have become habituated and overly bold will go after small dogs. However pets are not primary prey for them, not by a long shot.

As it is with the presence of apex predators in any ecosystem, having coyotes living and thriving in an urban area is a positive sign of the health and biodiversity of urban areas. Their presence can be considered a thumbs-up for the quality of a city’s urban ecology.

Project Coyote, a North American coalition of wildlife scientists, educators, predator- friendly ranchers and community leaders, promotes compassionate conservation and coexistence between people and wildlife.

As a national non-profit organization based in Northern California, Project Coyote works to change negative attitudes toward coyotes, wolves and other native carnivores by replacing ignorance and fear with understanding, respect and appreciation.

All of our work — through education, science, and advocacy — strives to create fundamental and systemic changes in the ways wild carnivores are viewed and treated in North America.

Why Coyotes?
As the most persecuted native carnivore and a species that has existed in North America since the Pleistocene, the Coyote represents all misunderstood and exploited predators. Poisoned, trapped, aerial gunned and killed for bounties and in contests, an estimated 500,000 coyotes die every year in the U.S. alone — one per minute.

Revered and respected by Native Americans for their intelligence and resilience, coyotes have much to teach us about the capacity to evolve and coexist in the face of rapid ecological and social change.

By changing attitudes toward coyotes, we replace fear and misconceptions with respect and appreciation for all native carnivores as ambassadors for healthy and sustainable ecosystems

How to make your community coyote-aware:

Whether you live in a rural or urban area, you can help to educate your community about coyotes and coyote coexistence strategies.

Many state wildlife agencies are underfunded and understaffed and simply don’t have the resources to address increasing human-wildlife conflicts resulting from urban sprawl, habitat fragmentation, and growing human populations.

Here are just a few ways that you can help make your community Coyote Aware:

  • Organize a Coexisting with Coyotes event in your community; contact Project Coyote to see if one of our staff or Advisory Board members can speak in your community or suggest someone locally.
  • Organize a screening of American Coyote—Still Wild at Heart in your community; this may be combined with a guest speaker presentation.
  • Ask your local cable station to air American Coyote—Still Wild at Heart
  • Write letters to the editor to help educate your community about coyotes and the important ecological role they play in maintaining species diversity and ecosystem health. Click here for our tips for writing letters to the editor.
  • Organize a tabling event at local venues or events and help distribute Project Coyote educational materials.
  • Help spread our message and support our work by purchasing and wearing Project Coyote merchandise. Visit our CafePress shop to see our latest hip t-shirt designs and other products.

Let’s all learn to CO-exist with the coyote.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201210/coyotes-lets-appreciate-americas-song-dog

Coyote, America’s song dog, is an amazing and magnificent animal who is very misunderstood, historically maligned, and tragically and reprehensibly persecuted. Coyotes are intelligent, playful, affectionate, and devoted caregivers. Native Americans appreciated them as cunning tricksters. They are among the most adaptable animals on Earth and are critical to the integrity of many diverse ecosystems. I know coyotes well having studied them for decades.

North America is home to a very special wild dog—the coyote. Highly respected by Native Americans, coyotes have held a special place in our history. The Navajo’s sheep and goat herders greatly revered coyotes, and referred to them as “God’s dog.” It wasn’t until sheep ranchers began running large herds of unprotected sheep that coyotes began to be viewed in an unfavorable light.

 coyoteQuiet and intelligent, coyotes play a special role in our sense of the natural world and in our eco-system.

Though our interactions with coyotes are rare, these fascinating animals live in nearly every city in the country, and in every forest and town in between. Because they’re predators that will occasionally prey upon the domesticated animals we love—our cats and chickens—coyotes have been reviled by many. But it’s important to keep in mind that, like any predator, coyotes play an important role in keeping our ecosystem in balance.

42% of a coyote’s diet is made up of rodents. That means that coyotes work hard every day to keep a cap on the mouse and rat populations in our area. In farming areas, coyotes can be seen following farm machinery as they catch the voles and rodents that flee the machine. Nearly 30% of their diet is berries and grasses.

Lcoyote pupike all omnivores, coyotes will take food wherever they find it, which means that they will also eat insects, fawns, birds, frogs, snakes, and human trash. Coyotes eat raccoons. And, given the chance, a coyote will eat a cat. This happens rarely, however—studies show that cats make up less than 1% of a coyote’s diet.

In many parts of our region, coyotes are an apex predator, which means that they are at the top of the food chain. By nature, they keep the other animal populations in check.

Humans and Coyotes
Because coyotes are predators, their history with humans has been filled with violence. Coyotes are hunted in many parts of the country, including Washington State. Yet studies show that where coyotes are hunted and trapped, females produce more pups per litter than in areas where they are protected.

coyote pupMany people worry that coyotes might attack or bite a human child, but the truth is that coyotes shy away from people. In Kitsap County, for example, in 2007 there were 189 dog bites reported. There has never been a coyote bite incident in Kitsap.

Not all humans fear or dislike coyotes. For many of us, the coyote is a mystical, elegant animal. There’s magic in seeing a silent coyote standing on the forest’s edge, watching us warily before trotting, light-footed, into the woods. Coyotes are the closest thing we have to wolves, to the wild equivalent of the dogs we know and love in our homes.

Family Life
Some coyote pairs live together for years, hunting and raising pups together. From time to time, these bonds last for life. Coyotes breed in late winter (something to think about on Valentine’s Day.)
During pregnancy, the female digs a den under an uprooted tree or log or in a thicket or other protected area. The den usually has a small opening, but is 5 – 15 feet inside with a sizeable nesting chamber at the back end.

coyoteAfter 63 days of pregnancy, the female will enter the den to give birth to a litter of pups. The average litter is four pups, but this varies depending on food availablility and the density of the local coyote population.

Coyote pups are mainly cared for by their mother, sometimes with help from an older sibling. The male hunts for the family during this time. After the pups emerge from the den at 2 – 3 weeks, they’re ready to start eating regurgitated food in addition to their mother’s milk.

Coyote parents with young pups often move from one den to another in order to keep their pups safe and secret. Moving also helps limit the mess in any one house!

Young coyotes usually stay with their parents until they’re 6 – 8 months old.

Coyotes are incredibly adaptive, even to human society. In pioneer days, coyotes lived exclusively in the Intermountain West, but as people have expanded their territory, so have the coyotes. Human trash, development, and infrastructure have helped coyotes spread all over the country.

They may be quiet around people, but coyotes have plenty to say to each other. They bark and howl to signal danger, woof and growl to show threat, and they whine or yip in greeting. Group howls are often given when the family is trying to communicate with an absent family member.

Read more about Coexisting with Coyotes and Fun Facts about Coyotes.

Exploring Carlsbad, Part Two: Wildlife vs Development

When we first moved here in 1985, our street was a dead end (literally).

My son and I would walk our dogs to where the pavement ended and there we abruptly entered a wonderland of nature: along narrow paths with overhanging vegetation;  sage, coyote bush, sumac — and wildlife; coyotes, bobcats, deer– even a mountain lion was spotted now and again.

In other words…heaven.

It was a sad day when the bulldozers appeared and in a matter of minutes completely raped the hills, scraping the native flora down to bare earth, uprooting mature trees, and displacing dozens, if not hundreds, of animals.

It’s unrecognizable now–if you hadn’t lived here as long as we have, you’d never know the rich beauty that once existed.

It’s regretful that the city leaders didn’t and don’t seem to care about respecting, protecting, and preserving native flora and fauna.

Instead of conserving and sustaining our unique beauty, they’ve allowed Carlsbad to become an Orange County clone — heavy on the ubiquitous business parks and subdivisions totally disconnected to the land.

They’ve mostly destroyed the unique personality and beauty of our little coastal town.

In my opinion.

Historically, Carlsbad/Agua Hedionda Lagoon was the former home to two Native American groups, the Luiseños and the Diegueños or Kumeyaay.

Did you know that Agua Hedionda means “stinking waters”?

(It does and it does.)

Although the Spaniards (and other settlers) decimated the Native American connection to this area, over the years I’ve heard about nearby sacred burial grounds that might still be intact, and that’s a good thing.

In spite of the destruction of habitat, there are still a few surviving animals attempting to coexist.

In the evening, we hear the song of the coyote, not as often as we used to, but it makes us happy. Check out this audio. So close!

I’ve seen fresh bobcat tracks, too, but no actual visual sighting.

On a recent walk, I stepped out of my front door, walked across the street, and was immediately greeted by this amazing sight, a Great Blue Heron nearly as tall as me.
GreatBlueHeron1 greatblueheron2 After I snapped a dozen photos, I continued walking, and spotted a White Egret.egret2015It was a day for wildlife; these are not good pics for some reason, but a couple of different rabbits made an appearance.

On a front lawn.
aprilwalk5 Overlooking Agua Hedionda. aprilwalk4

I believe this is a Cooper’s Hawk; don’t think it’s a Red Tailed Hawk.CooperHawk1If I ruled the world (or at least my little part of it), I’d make sure that any planned development would respect all wildlife and make appropriate plans to not only preserve habitat, but encourage MORE animals to coexist with us.

Especially predators. We need predators. We need coyotes and bobcats and mountain lions and hawks and falcons for balance. Without them, we’re inundated with their food source; rabbits, rats, and squirrels.

Can’t we all just get along?

Read Exploring Carlsbad, Part One: Signs
https://enchantedseashells.com/2015/05/01/exploring-carlsbad-part-one-signs/