Bobcat

Bobcat (Lynx rufus)

Bobcat (Lynx rufus) photo: J.Masson

My neighbor called today to let me know that our resident bear has returned from hibernation, larger than ever, visiting their compost pile and bird feeders last night. As they usually get the first visit, it’s nice of them to give me a heads-up to protect my own feeders. Their yard is very popular with wildlife and they get many more visitors than we do, perhaps because we have a dog or that their smorgasbord of feeders is enough for one-stop dining.

In conversing, I learned that the handsome bobcat I posted about the other day has been hunting squirrels off their feeders all winter. They kindly shared the above photo of this beautiful visitor calmly sitting on their deck! Check out that face and those huge paws!

According to this website, which was filled with a lot of information about the species, bobcat diet consists of 75-90% rabbits, followed by smaller rodents like squirrels. In winter, when their primary food can become scarce, bobcats have been known to kill adult deer, revealing their power and hunting skill.

Males are larger than females by a third (average range is 15 to 35 pounds), so it is hard to determine sex without closer inspection (not likely). Breeding season is late winter with 1-4 kits being born two months later. It is possible that this is the female I saw at our river two summers ago with a little fuzzball of a kit by her side. If she is pregnant or nursing, that could account for why she is being seen more often, needing to increase her calorie consumption. One can only speculate.

Bobcats rarely interact with humans, secretively traveling out of sight around the hours of dawn and dusk. Their contribution to the keeping rodent populations in check is helpful in balancing ecosystems. Conservation, decline of hunting/trapping and regrowth of the forest in our area has contributed to a rebounding of their population. Good news all around!

About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
This entry was posted in Field Notes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

62 Responses to Bobcat

  1. Nicci says:

    Nice post and amazing photo.

  2. Maria F. says:

    Fascinating Eliza!

  3. Treah says:

    Indeed a gorgeous fellow (or lady). However, the fact that your resident is being seen often makes me a little nervous for him/her. As your research shows, they should be secretive & wary. People & their cars & guns can harm a creature who has lost that careful wariness. It is lovely to have these sightings though.

  4. Sharon says:

    Wowzers – this is a fantastic shot!

    I hope they don’t hunt dogs or cats :(.

    In any case, a gorgeous animal.

  5. arlingwoman says:

    I’d love to share some squirrels and rabbits with your beautiful lynx. Not to mention some voles…

  6. Val Boyko says:

    So close …. and such a lovely photo to share! 🙂

  7. ladyfi says:

    Wow – what a beautiful creature!

  8. Today, being ‘Earth Day’ it’s good to read that it’s a species on the rebound! I rejoice in your sightings and reading accounts of flourishing ecosystems.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thanks, it is good news for Earth Day. We seem to be one of the few places on the planet where wildlife is abundant amidst human habitation. Reforestation accounts for most of it, I’d say.

  9. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    He is such a handsome creature!

  10. maureenc says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your visitors with your readers. I will probably never have the opportunity to see a bob cat in the wild, but your post has been thoroughly enjoyed. What a handsome creature. and how lucky are you to have him/her visit.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thanks, Maureen, I do feel lucky. My neighbors have lived there for almost 40 years and they said in the past few years the wild life sightings have increased dramatically. I think that is good news!

  11. I can’t believe you have bears and bobcats visiting you! Amazing! 🙂

    • Eliza Waters says:

      We do have lots of wildlife around here for sure! Some day maybe I’ll write a list of all the mammals I’ve seen, it would be interesting to see how many there are. With birds, too, there must be over a hundred. I love living here!

  12. Kathy Sturr says:

    Wow, what great neighbors you have! Fuzzy ones, too. Amazing a bobcat can take down a deer! Do you use feeders with the bear around? I remember (again, in ME) the raccoons would wreak havoc on mine so every night I would put them in the shed and then every morning I would put them back up until the rascals forgot about my route. Would that work with bears?

    • Eliza Waters says:

      I’m told bears have long memories and remember feeder locations from year to year. We’ve done the dawn to dusk, in/out routine in the past, but this year we’re stopping for the season. Where we live is rural, so there is lots of wild food.

  13. I’m amazed that the bobcat comes right up to their house! I wonder if people will start seeing more of them as their population rebounds.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      It is unusual behavior, but with the buffet of birds and squirrels at their feeders, and no threat from the house, perhaps he isn’t fearful. I’m told he moves like a lightning flash, so in 2 seconds he would be gone into the woods.

      • That’s probably good – I would worry that if he got too comfortable with people, he might be in danger (even unintentional danger, like getting hit by a car). Still, so exciting to get to see him, even quickly!

      • Eliza Waters says:

        From my reading, they say if they make it through their first year (mortality is high), they learn all they need to survive. Living here, human activity must be part of their ‘education.’ Luckily, road traffic isn’t heavy, so hopefully, the odds are in his favor.

  14. Robbie says:

    Really neat! lol-he looks like my house cat on steroids:-) Just had to say that, but so true:-)Beautiful creature!

  15. mfryan says:

    Wow! What an interesting visitor to keep you on your toes! 🙂

  16. I learn so much from your blog posts. 🙂

  17. LadyPinkRose says:

    I sure could use a bobcat here, Eliza. Since I pulled in my hunter cat last year into the house permanently, the rabbit population is boggling my mind. I had no idea my Cookie did such a great job at keeping those rabbits under control. Now I am having a heck of a time keeping my Tulips safe as they are growing.
    What a picture! That cat is gorgeous and I am seriously surprised he is just calmly sitting on your neighbor’s deck. Wow!! Thanks for sharing. We don’t have bobcats around here and to see one like this one, is a treat for me. Love, Amy ❤

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Yes, he was a special visitor, for sure. They really do a great service in keeping rodent populations in check. Voles still are a problem here… spring always reveals the damage they’ve wrought over winter (grrr!) under the snow. Since I started keeping my cats indoors as well, they’ve been having a field day out there. Sigh, oh well! Thanks for your visit, Amy!

  18. How exciting it must have been to spot this beautiful creature! Keep your camera handy Eliza!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      My neighbor told us that a few days ago this fellow hung out on their deck ALL day, virtually tame. Unbelievable! Wish I could have snuck in there with my camera! Apparently, it did not come away with a meal as they have stopped feeding the birds/squirrels because of the very large bear that also visits at night. Their yard is like a wilderness park!

  19. Rebecca says:

    How amazing. I’ve read about bobcats but never seen a photograph outside of nature journals and documentaries. What a creature!

  20. Robin says:

    The bobcat is a beautiful creature. It’s bigger than I thought it was, too. A bobcat would grow fat and sassy on rabbits around here. 🙂

  21. Opher says:

    He is beautiful!

  22. neilirving says:

    Wow always been fascinated by bears, lol don’t see many in the UK, I have a friend who is from liverpool (just a short ferry ride from us) who tells a fantastic story about bears and his first encounter with one on his first visit to his Canadian wife’s family, I really need to record him or video him telling the story, he is a fabulous story teller like a larger than life Ringo Starr, actually thinking about it he is a bit like a scouse bear, love the Bobcat don’t think our little dog would be impressed if that visited our garden 🙂

    • Eliza Waters says:

      As wildlife increasingly returns to our area, there are more encounters, most of which are pleasant. Ruining our favorite feeders isn’t one of them! 😉

  23. mk says:

    I have seen a bobcat exactly once in my entire life. What a thrill!

    • Eliza Waters says:

      It is thrilling – I hope this was the female I saw a couple years ago and she is pregnant, making her so hungry that she’ll risk being seen at close range. It is a very safe yard for her. I just hope she stays away from the neighbor’s chickens – those yards are NOT safe!

  24. Very good news, and how exciting to have a sighting! I know they are here but I’ve never seen one. Thanks for this great post 🙂

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thank you, Melissa. According to my neighbor, this one is quite relaxed in their yard. A couple weeks ago, they invited me up when it was sitting outside their woodpile waiting for a red squirrel that lives there. I was a mere 10 feet away (inside the house, it’s not THAT tame). I plan to do another post with the shots I took.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s