Spotted! Bobcat

A few weeks ago, we lost a few chickens. The first one didn’t worry us that much. Sometimes you lose chickens to predators. It’s just the way it goes. But after we lost two in one day, we closed our free ranging chickens into the safety of their coop and waited to see what would show up looking for more easy prey.


Our chicken predator turned out not to be the coyote we had suspected, but a very large bobcat. Friends caught the bobcat red-pawed as it stalked into the yard that very afternoon looking for another chicken dinner. Once it heard their dog bark, it disappeared into the woods, heading west.

We missed the excitement, and when we arrived home an hour later we figured the bobcat was long gone and headed out to get some chores done. We figured wrong, and a few hundred yards from the chicken coop, we spotted our resident bobcat stalking a magpie (probably harder to catch than a chicken).

Bobcats are common in Colorado and the Wet Mountain Valley. We’ve seen a few in the years we’ve lived here, although never one this big. What we didn’t realize is that although they are secretive in nature, they are still highly likely to be around a ranch or cabin searching for a quick meal. Unsurprisingly, chickens rank high in a bobcat’s list of quick meals.

Bobcats are supposedly about twice the size of a large housecat, but this one seemed much larger, and while bobcat attacks on humans are incredibly rare we kept our distance. It saw us at the same time that we saw it and immediately slunk into a thick stand of willows. From the safety of our car we crept up and took several photos as it watched warily from deep in the thicket. If we didn’t know it was there, I don’t think we’d have ever spotted it. The bobcat’s coat - tawny with darker stripes and spots - melded perfectly with the early winter tans, browns, and golds of the thicket branches and grasses.


After a few minutes, we went on our way. When we came back down the drive an hour later, the bobcat was gone. In front of us the full moon rose over the Wet Mountains, surrounded by a few wispy pink clouds reflecting the last of the suns’ rays. That stillness particular to a winter evening surrounded us, and we stood there for a long time and took in the quiet.

We haven’t seen our bobcat since, but I don’t doubt he’s still around, searching for a way to breach the newly-erected defenses that now surround all those chicken dinners he’d like to be eating. In the meantime, we’ll keep our eyes open, and maybe we’ll catch a glimpse again someday soon.

About the author: Patty Reagin is a freelance writer and volunteer for San Isabel Land Protection Trust. Her monthly blog for San Isabel titled "Spotted" features the beauty of the flora and fauna in our region. When Patty's not behind a computer working she can be found outside, taking in the beauty of the Wet Mountain Valley with her dogs and horses.


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