Coyotes can be a bird's best friend. Sounds strange, I know. I learned why in an article in a recent issue of the Delta Waterfowl magazine. As you might remember from previous blogs, most of my conservation money goes to game-bird organizations that practice habitat conservation. Delta Waterfowl is one of those. Save a duck or a pheasant and you save many grassland and wetland non-game bird species. Now about coyotes: they're mammal hunters. Surely they are opportunistic and take eggs or birds when found. But, according to the article, they focus on the mammals that actively hunt for birds and eggs. Red Fox, for example, is listed as the number-one predator of ducks nesting in the grassland surrounding prairie potholes. Coyotes will kill or drive fox from coyote territories. Save a duck and you save a blackbird or meadowlark. Our Orono neighborhood has coyotes. They walk through our yard. We hear them howl at night. We've had fox, too, but rarely, and not for some time. Ditto opossum. They made an appearance, then disappeared. Perhaps we can credit the coyotes for that. They own this territory, and that's OK with me. I just wish they paid more attention to squirrels and raccoons. This coyote was found in a wooded area in eastern Orono.