I can think of two instances (but there are many more) of exposing, through good intentions, birds to predation by cats which, to me, highlights the need to be at least aware of the potential dangers. Although I’m a cat lover I am also an animal lover and I don’t like to see animals killed by my cat or any other cat for that matter. It’s one of the great dilemmas for cat owners and there’s no easy answer.
Turkey killed by bobcat
This is a story in the online news media today about a birdfeeder which had been strapped to a tree in Alabama, USA. A turkey had the habit of feeding from this feeder with its back turned to the vegetation surrounding the tree. In placing the feeder in this position, against a tree, it meant that turkeys were vulnerable to attack by predators.
A juvenile turkey was feeding at the feeder when attacked by an opportunistic bobcat. The picture on this page says it all. The feeder is magnificent but deadly as the animal lover who placed it provided a bobcat with a good meal because the prey animals could not see potential predators. The picture is provided by the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. They say that:
“If you have feed out and want to decrease the risks to your turkeys, placed the feeders in more open areas to provide greater visibility and a better chance of escape”.
Are the people who feed the turkeys planning to catch and kill them for Christmas? Just a thought. I hope an America comments.
Literally, Christmas came early for this bobcat. He even participated in the standard human fare for Christmas, only it was raw, the way he likes it.
I feed squirrels in my backyard. As you know they chuck food everywhere and onto the ground. Pigeons like to shuffle around the ground picking up feed that the squirrels have deposited there. My cat likes to prey on the pigeons so I have to shoo them away before he gets to them. The answer is to have a big tray underneath the squirrel feeder to catch the food falling off it. The moral is that bird feeders and squirrel feeders can expose birds to predation by predators. And if you’re thinking, “Why be concerned about pigeons?” I think you’re wrong because they are rather clever, sentient beings like any other bird and to not care about them is a form of speciesism.
Bobcats inhabit pretty well all of America. They are a resilient medium-sized species. They have to be because they are “harvested” for their skin. Their survival in the wild in America is considered as “Least Concern” (a technical term) by the experts. Bobcats often prey on rabbits, hares and rodents. During difficult periods they might prey on larger animals, the carcasses of which they can hide and return to later.
They are classic stalkers like domestic cats. They have a preference for prey animals in the weight range 1.5 to 12.5 pounds. Prey depends upon where they live in the US. In the North it is the snowshoe hare. Its cousin, the lynx, also eats a lot of snowshoe hares. In New England it is the Eastern cottontail. One study in the Everglades (Florida) found that a high percentage of kills, 33/39, were fawns. This is a very adaptable, flexible animal when it comes to prey animals which at least partly accounts for its resilience.
The oldest bobcat in captivity lived to 32 while the oldest wild bobcat on record died at 16 according to my research. The average bobcat lifespan is about 6 years and rarely beyond 10 years.
SOME MORE ON THE BOBCAT: