Chickens to the Left of Me, Bobcat on the Right…

…And we’re stuck in the middle again.

I love my semi-rural neighborhood. It’s mid-March, and the wisteria and nasturtiums are beginning to show off. The mockingbirds are back in business, singing from pre-dawn until well after twilight, when they finally give way to the chorus of frogs that have miraculously surfaced despite our lack of rain.

Nasturtiums by the roadside are a sure sign of spring.

Nasturtiums by the roadside are a sure sign of spring.

But like anyplace since Adam and Eve got us kicked out of Eden, we have our problems. And right now, we have an intractable problem of about 30 lbs. of obligate carnivorism: a bobcat has moved into the neighborhood.

I’ve been relentlessly vigilant since Summer was taken from the flock back in January. The stealth with which her demise was carried out suggested a bobcat, but we had never actually seen one on our property, so we couldn’t be sure.

That all changed this week.

So beautiful. So deadly. (image from The Santa Barbara Independent)

So beautiful. So deadly. (image from The Santa Barbara Independent)

I had just put the hens away on the east side of our property and happened to walk through the house to look out our living room door that faces west. There, basking regally in a patch of sun just a few yards away, lay a large, healthy-looking bobcat. I was too gobsmacked by the sight to get a photo. What registered was how powerful and truly beautiful an animal he was. That and a chilling sense of dread. Our small dog, Soho, was outside. Cody the cat was outside. And just a few moments previously, our little flock of hens had been outside, as well.

Our little Luna: so pretty and so defenseless.

Our little Luna: so pretty and so defenseless.

News travels fast on our neighborhood loop. By yesterday evening, I had run into three other neighbors who had confirmed sightings of Mr. Cat (I am assuming it is a male because he looked well over the average 20 lb size of a female bobcat). One neighbor shared that after he had taken her last hen, he continues to return to her property to relax by her pond. I guess he likes the view. He is almost certainly the same villain who took Summer from our flock back in January.

Now we have to keep a very close watch on the hens.

Now we have to keep a very close watch on the hens.

So what to do? With hawks, we usually at least get a warning sound. But a bobcat is a silent and stealthy hunter. With a typical one to four mile daily hunting radius, he could be anywhere at any time.

Our pets are no match for this guy (image from wildspiritguides.com)

Our pets are no match for this guy (image from wildspiritguides.com)

According to online sources, the bobcat’s favorite prey are rodents and cottontail bunnies, but this one has developed a particular taste for chicken. They are said to be crepuscular rather than nocturnal – hunting twilight of dawn or dusk, but clearly there is no safe time of day.

We saw the bobcat laying just a few feet from where Soho is in this photo.

We saw the bobcat laying just a few feet from where Soho is in this photo.

The rather anemic suggestions I found for discouraging a bobcat included the construction of a fence that exceeds six feet in height. I’m sure our homeowner’s association will look favorably on my imminent application to build a fortress and a moat.

Oh, and it is suggested that pets be kept inside at all times. There’s a concept. Should we give each of the hens their own bedroom?

"I guess I'll bunk here", says Pippa.

“I guess I’ll bunk here”, says Pippa.

So, for the moment, no good solution. The bobcat wins. Anyone want to volunteer for chicken shepherd duty?

"He'll never find me here", says Cody.

“He’ll never find me here”, says Cody.

About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
This entry was posted in All Things Poultry, Animal/Vegetable/Mineral, Annoyances of Life and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Chickens to the Left of Me, Bobcat on the Right…

  1. Katherine says:

    Ah, nature – as confounding as ever. Depending on the time of year, and which species I first espy as a baby, I vacillate between rooting for the bobcats, the bunnies, and the raptors. All very contradictory. However, pets ALWAYS take precedence. I don’t suppose there’s any way to tame the big-cat? Your menagerie could use more members.

  2. dizzyguy says:

    Perhaps we should offer Mr. Bobcat a gift card at our local Whole Foods. They offer tasty chicken breasts that do not require preparation for his purposes. And even more importantly, they do not come attached to any of our pet chickens.

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