|Texas bobcat, photo by Matthew High|
Patricia Lichen's cat! Patricia commented on my previous post about sounds in the night that she wasn't sure what made the strange call
but her cat seemed to!
Her cat was justifiably upset because the call we heard before dawn in the woods of Bentsen State Park was a bobcat (Lynx rufus texensis). Reportedly, bobcats are fairly common in this part of southeastern Texas, near the Rio Grande. According to Wild Mammals of Missouri, Schwartz and Schwartz, 2001, March is the peak of the breeding season in Missouri. This was March 16 in Texas, so it's possible that the Pauraque wasn't the only amorous singer on the prowl.
Bobcats have the widest range of all the wild cats of the Americas; from southern Canada—where they may compete with the larger Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), down to central Mexico. That bobbed tail usually helps distinguish a bobcat from a feral domestic cat, but a bobcat is also about twice the size of a pet cat: 17-23 inches tall and between 11 and 30 pounds. According to Wikipedia's article, it is absent from most of Missouri, but Wild Mammals of Missouri, other sources and experience disagrees. I saw my first bobcat in Jefferson County, Missouri, crossing a country road at night. Friends in Dent Country tell me they see them on occasion. We didn't get to see this one, but I'm glad we heard him.
Thanks to Matthew High for his great photo of a bobcat seen in west Texas in September.