NATURE NARRATIVES: A bobcat in the backyard (part 2)

By Melissa Walker
       Bobcat Kittens!
       June 10:

The backyard bobcat.
Courtesy of Melissa Walker

       On June 1, Laura Brackett, my neighbor across the street, called with exciting news. "The bobcat is in my backyard and has four kittens!" So, the bobcat that has been ranging in our Westside Colorado Springs neighborhood since April 22 is definitely a female and has found adequate food, water and shelter to make this her temporary home. The bobcat has hidden her den and kittens underneath thick juniper bushes in the Bracketts' backyard.
       During the past week, Laura and I have tried to photograph the growing family without disturbing the mother bobcat. We quietly observe and photograph from the Bracketts' second-floor deck. We think that the kittens are about 5 weeks old and were kept hidden the first few weeks.
       Laura and her husband Dave observe the bobcat family in the morning and early evening when the mother nurses her kittens next to their den. Watching with binoculars, Laura and Dave report that the mother bobcat is successful in finding prey for her kittens. In addition to a fox squirrel, the Bracketts have also seen the remains of a red fox, rabbit and a skunk.
       On June 9, the mother bobcat nursed her kittens closer to the house and Laura captured some great images. My thanks to Laura Brackett for providing the photos that record part of the daily life of the bobcat family.
       Bobcat Epilogue:
       The mother bobcat successfully raised her four kittens in the Bracketts' backyard until they were ready to move to a new territory. The kittens practiced climbing trees, and as they got older, climbed the Bracketts' backyard fence to follow their mother, probably to learn how to hunt squirrels and rabbits. On hot days, the kittens stayed in their den until early evening. All of our neighbors were alerted about the bobcat family, but there were no negative encounters between "our" wildcat and pets or people. Soon after the first week of July, the mother bobcat and her kittens left "the nursery" and haven't been seen since. However, many neighbors did observe the mother bobcat during her 10-week stay in our neighborhood and we were all fascinated by this glimpse of one of Colorado's most elusive and beautiful species of wildlife.

Walker, a long-time area naturalist, posts regular entries in her online blog at naturenarratives.com. She has given her permission to reprint selected pieces in the Westside Pioneer.