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Bobcat problem (Predator Problems)

by steve, Western Massachusetts, Wednesday, July 19, 2017, 23:39 (89 days ago)

I've lost a 2 birds in the past few months from attacks: About 6-8 weeks ago, the flock squawked like mad and start flying around the yard. When I came out, most of them were standing in a row shouting in the same direction out into the woods behind my house. I walked back there and saw something small-ish standing with a white guinea hen in its mouth. I went after it and it ran, and disappeared in the bushes before I could even tell what it was, and in a way that seemed almost like magic. It didnt' seem like a fox, althopugh it was about that size, but less red and it seemed a bit stockier overall. It seemed like it scared to easy to be a fox -- they are bold around here and likely to go after a whole flock, not grab one and run in fear. So, I figured it was an adolescent coyote -- which I thought would explain it's size, color, relative timidity (because it's young) and clumsiness (dropping the bird).

10 days ago, I went to the store around dusk, and came back a little later to find a pile of white feathers on the ground next to the pen door. The rest of the flock was in on their perches, but the 2nd of what was my 3 white birds was gone.

I assumed it was the same coyote or whatever. We do have piles of every predator you can imagine around here, including foxes, coyotes, fishers, raccoons, etc.; so it could have been a completely different animal each time.

Today, around noon, the birds were squawking like crazy. (They were in the pen, b/c I now have a policy of leaving them in for 2 weeks after a predator attack, so as to not encourage repeat attacks.) My coop and pen is at the edge of the woods, and I saw something about fox size running away into the woods about 20 feet from the pen.

It stopped and turned around to look at me, and it was a bobcat! When I kept walking toward him, he ran off into the woods, and disappeared in a way that frankly seemed impossible. (Where he went he should have still been visible, and it dead ends at a fence, a cliff, and a stream, so it's hard to know where he even went.) This make


This is now the second one I've seen -- the first one 2 years ago standing at the pen staring in. I had to chase him away back then.

I'm now kind of assuming the 2 recent attacks have been the bobcat. That would make it even more serious -- this is its territory and it's around and hunting. But let's say those attacks are unrelated. Even just this one bobcat sighting made me think today I can't just ignore it:

Because so far, most threats have been at dusk or later, or at dawn. So, I let them free range in the afternoon, and try to have them in around dusk.

But, this bobcat was at the coop at noon. So, it seems like I don't really have a defense against a fairly intense and crafty predator that hunts all day.

This alone seems like a big problem, but also I don't really know enough about bobcats' habits or behaviors at all. I don't know what to expect, how often they are around, what should be my practices with the flock because of its presence, etc.

Does anyone have any experience with or knowledge of bobcats as they relate to keeping a flock safe? Any information would be appreciated.

Thanks!

No experience with bobcats and guinea fowl, but..

by Barbara-NH @, Thursday, July 20, 2017, 02:41 (89 days ago) @ steve

..we do have bobcats that come close to our house here in New Hampshire (just over the MA/NH border north of the Ashby/Fitchburg, MA, area). When we had our guineas, the bobcats never came very close to the house, although we would often see their tracks down back in the woods on our property. After we no longer had guineas or chickens, we saw bobcats a couple of times during the middle of the day. One time, we saw the bobcat crouched low to the ground (just over the edge of our back lawn), and then it leapt high up to snatch a squirrel as it jumped up onto the trunk of a tree. They often walk along the stone wall just over the hill behind our house. You're right. They do hunt at all hours of the day, and your birds are in danger anytime they are out of their pen.

I did some research on bobcat behavior after we saw the one in our backyard, and here are a few of the things I found out:

  • Bobcats are solitary except during mating season.

  • Both males and females have their own territories. Females have about 5 square miles, and their territories do not overlap. Males have much larger territories (often more than 20 square miles), but they can overlap.

  • Bobcats may have several dens/shelters in their territory (one main den and 3 or 4 additional shelters).

  • Bobcat kittens start to eat solid food at about 2 months and start to learn to hunt at about 5 months. They are usually born in early spring but can be born at any time during the year.

Going on all of that, I think you may need to know whether your problem bobcat is a male or a female. If a male, you may see less of him as he travels around his territory. If a female, you may see her more, especially if she is trying to feed a litter of kittens.

Sorry I don't have any ideas for controlling the bobcat, if it can be controlled, but I sure do wish you the best of luck keeping your flock safe.

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