Heard but not seen

Sometimes what you hear in the backyard can be almost as exciting as what you see.  In this case, it was an unusual half-screech, half roar call that sounded sort of like a cross between a crow on steroids and a person screaming.  I first heard it a few days ago, around midnight, starting out in the neighbor’s yard, moving toward mine, then getting very loud as it probably stood within 75-100 feet of where I was sitting on the 4-season porch.  It sounded like this, but was repeated at frequent (every few seconds) intervals:

After listening to a variety of wildlife calls, my husband and I decided it was a bobcat, probably on the prowl, looking for a mate? or a rabbit?  (You can download a variety of wildlife calls at this website, if you are interested in trying to call in various species.)

A very short video clip of what I would have loved to have seen.

Bobcat calling from Trish Carney on Vimeo.

I heard the cat calling again early this morning, in the same place in the backyard. I had no idea bobcats would hang out in suburbs, but the wetland valley behind our house is excellent, if very small acreage, habitat for the cat, which prefers open areas in brushy woods for hunting.  Since bobcats need a home range at least 3-6 square miles (in summer) to hunt, this animal might be roaming over several of the open spaces in this Twin Cities suburban complex of neighborhoods.

Bobcats are a smaller than their close cousins, the Lynx, which reside primarily in Canada, and bobcats are more generalist in their appetites than Lynx — eating a variety of foods from smaller insect-sized prey to larger-bodied animals like deer.  Squirrels, woodchucks, mice, and rabbits probably make up the largest proportion of the diet; I would be happy to have this cat get rid of the pesky woodchuck and rabbits that are feasting on the wildflowers in my garden right now.

I waited two years to finally spot the red foxes living in the backyard; I hope it doesn’t take that long to get a glimpse of the bobcat.

Bobcat (Lynx rufus) with rabbit dinner.  By Linda Tanner [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bobcat (Lynx rufus) with rabbit dinner. By Linda Tanner [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.

I’m putting the game camera back up in the woods today!

5 thoughts on “Heard but not seen

  1. Wow! A couple of weeks ago I heard some awful noises outside my bedroom door. It sounded like something was being killed. In the morning I looked for fur or feathers but couldn’t find any signs of the massacre. Hope the bobcat doesn’t harm your. Fox family!

    Seattle till Friday pm so keep me posted on the neighborhood wildlife I’m in Seattle til Friday so keep me posted on the neighborhood wildlife. I do know the Japanese beetles are back! Maryann Sent from my iPad

  2. Had a similar situation…heard an animal “screaming” at night. One morning at dawn, I heard the screaming and went out to the deck. There was a fox and as he walked away from the house, he turned and screamed at me.

    A wildlife biologist explained the fox would scream at my cat who sometimes sneaked out of the house. The cat was in the fox’s feeding territory. I was glad to have the fox scare the cat back to the house.

  3. I once saw a bobcat on the drive home – late at night. We live in a very rural area in a national forest, so lots of wildlife out here. I will have to keep an ear out for the next one.

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