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    • Bobcats, sometimes called wildcats, are roughly twice as big as the average housecat. They have long legs, large paws, and tufted ears similar to those of their larger relative, the lynx.

    • The cat is named for its tail, which appears to be cut or "bobbed."

    • Bobcats roam throughout much of North America and adapt well to such diverse habitats as forests, swamps, deserts, and even suburban areas.

    • Bobcats are solitary animals. Females choose a secluded den to raise a litter of one to six young kittens, which will remain with their mother for 9 to 12 months.

    • Bobcats are carnivores and thus prefer an all meat diet. Their food of choice is rabbits, but they will also eat birds, lizards, rodents, snakes, and carrion. On occasion they have been known to kill deer.

    • Most bobcats are brown or brownish red with a white underbelly and short, black-tipped tail.

    The bobcat (Felis rufus) and the lynx (F. lynx), a close cousin, are widely distributed throughout North America.  Bobcats are present throughout most of the United States and into southern Canada. These creatures tend to shun developed areas, but do make occasional forays into yards.

    The bobcat is easily confused with a cougar or a housecat because of its size.  Male bobcats are generally a third larger than their female counterparts from the same area.  Usually females are less than 20 pounds, with some as light as 10 or 11 pounds (well within the same range as the housecat).  Males average about 25 pounds on a 30- to 36-inch frame. You can distinguish a bobcat from a housecat by its larger-boned and more muscular body structure, and the short tail tipped with dark fur sets it apart from the cougar’s long, sweeping tail. This agile creature has long legs and can run in excess of 15 mph and leap over 12 feet.

    Bobcats can inhabit many different types of habitats, from small forested areas and open grasslands, to brushland and semiarid desert, as long as some cover is available.  A bobcat’s primary home range differs greatly within the species, anywhere from under a square mile to more than a hundred times that.  A female’s home range is exclusive; a male’s can overlap with several females’ and sometimes even those of other males.

    The most critical features of bobcat habitat are places for refuge and protection, such as ledges. Bobcats often use rocky ledges and rock piles for shelter, breeding, and raising young. Brush piles, hollow trees, and logs are other good structures for resting and dens. Evergreen bogs and swamps, and other secluded places, also fill the bobcat's requirement for refuge and protection. Rocky ledges are critical for bobcat habitats.  They provide shelter, cover, and den sites for birthing and rearing young.  Hollow trees and logs are occasionally used, but only when a rocky ledge is unavailable.

    Bobcats are solitary animals, and they may be active at any time, day or night. Most do their hunting in the pre-dawn and dusk hours. Bobcats choose a variety of prey from a shrew to an adult deer. The general preference is prey about the size of a cottontail rabbit (about 2 pounds) up to a raccoon (10 to 15 pounds).  Larger prey may be hidden under leaves and other plant material and revisited several times if it is too large for one meal.

    Bobcats have long been the target of hunters and trappers. Their pelts have dropped in value from the peaks of the 1980s, but they are still hunted and trapped for sport. Bobcat kittens are particularly vulnerable because they are completely dependent on the adult female for the first few months of life. The primary threat to the bobcat, and many other species of wildlife, is loss of habitat. The bobcats who call the Ponderosa Wildlife Sanctuary in New York enjoy habitat that is permanently protected against development and sport hunting and trapping are prohibited.

    Loon Close-up

    Common loons are not all that common. Many states list them as either "threatened" or a "species of special concern."


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