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!