Bobcat family in Inglewood backyard gives Calgary naturalist a show
Family of bobcats playing as Brian Keating snapped pics for half an hour
A parliament of magpies sounded the alarm.
"It was mid-afternoon and through my upstairs bathroom window I noticed some magpies, at least half a dozen, doing what is called 'mobbing behavior,'" Calgary naturalist Brian Keating told The Homestretch.
"I grabbed my binoculars and started to scan the spruce trees in my neighbour's backyard, looking for what I expected to be an owl. Then I noticed the tracks of a bobcat in the fresh snow on the roof of my neighbour's garden shed and the same tracks on the top of my fence that gave the cat roof access."
Keating brought his partner in to consult.
Bobcats. It was bobcats.
Three nearly-grown kittens and a patient mom. But photos through a closed window were not ideal.
"I quickly grabbed my coat and went outside. I kept out of sight behind the six-foot solid fence, moving very slowly and not making any noise. When I came to the location where I suspected the cats were, I stood tall and peered over with the camera up to my face, and there looking at me, totally unconcerned but certainly curious, were the faces of the two bobcats."
Keating says that after a moment, the cats forgot about him and got back to play.
His wife found two more while peeking through a hole in the fence.
"In all, we spent at least 30 minutes watching and photographing. At one point, they departed and disappeared into the thick bush beside the river, but moments later, they were back," he said.
Bunnies, squirrels and even house pets like domestic cats are prey for these felines, Keating said.
Bobcats are about twice the size of a house cat, and weigh up to 40 pounds (18 kilograms) but average closer to 22 pounds (10 kilograms).
"Bigger dogs would have nothing to fear, coyotes have been known to kill bobcats, but of course small dogs could certainly be taken," Keating said.
Bobcats are more focused on hares, rabbits, mice, voles and birds, including geese, but they generally avoid people, at least in urban areas.
A litter can be up to six kittens, but they average about four.
"They are born in April or May and are weaned about two months after that. From three to five months, they travel with mom, and disperse after that," he said.
So seeing a family all together at this time, he says, is a rare sighting.
For more fascinating stories about Alberta's wildlife from naturalist Brian Keating, visit his website and check out these stories: