Dateline – August 13, 2021 – Carrollton, Texas

Only a couple of times a year do I get an opportunity to photograph Bobcats or Coyotes in our little Carrollton neighborhood. Because these two medium-sized predators are so good at avoiding being seen, it is only on a rare occasion that I get a look at one–let alone get a chance to take their picture. When I do happen to get a new photo or two, I like to use the opportunity to remind everyone about just how common these two animals are all throughout Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

Suburban Bobcat

Although rarely seen, Bobcats and Coyotes can be found in most every urban and suburban environment in North Texas. They live and thrive in our residential neighborhoods. They roam our business parks. They patrol our golf courses and parks. Just about any place that can provide adequate food and water can be expected to have resident or transient Bobcats and Coyotes. What that means is, if your neighborhood or business campus has rabbits, rats, squirrels, and birds, then you probably also have Coyotes and Bobcats. Suburban and Urban areas are good habitats for both of these animals!

Even though people do not often see these animals, that doesn’t mean they aren’t present. Both Bobcats and Coyotes use stealth and the cover of darkness to remain unseen. But, if you do happen to spot one in your neighborhood or near your office, there is no reason be alarmed. Even if this is the first time you’ve seen one, it’s almost certain they didn’t just arrive. More likely than not, they’ve been around all along.

When your goal is to photograph Bobcats or Coyotes, a little luck is required. Just getting to see one takes some serendipity. The need to have a camera handy and ready at the time of the sighting, makes getting a picture all that more tricky. Capturing a photograph of just one or the other of these critters is difficult enough… It’s an especially rare event when you have a chance to see and photograph both animals on the same day. Here’s how it happened for me…

I had the pups in the car with me as we drove home from our morning walk at the dog park. Our route would take us past the front of our house on the way to the alley turn-in, just a few mailboxes further down the street. As we turned onto our street, I caught a fleeting glimpse of some kind of animal walking on the sidewalk down near my house. But, my view was obscured by intervening parked cars and trees before I could be sure what I had seen. My first impression was that this was a tan and white Beagle, but I wasn’t sure. I hadn’t noticed anyone walking with the dog, so I thought there was an outside chance that this was going to be something a little more interesting.

As I approached our house, and finally cleared the cars and trees blocking my view, I was able to confirm that there was nobody on the sidewalk with this animal. Then the critter came into view—it was a Bobcat. The tawny cat had moved off the sidewalk since I had first spotted her, and she was now sitting smack dab in the middle of my front yard.

I stopped the car and grabbed my camera from the glove box. I was able to take just a few pictures through the front windshield before my dogs finally noticed the big Bobcat as well. They got very excited, and their bad behavior demanded an end to my photo session. As I took my foot of the brake and began to drive on, the Bobcat stood and strolled away, headed between my house and the neighbor’s.

She was actually pooping
One the move again

I drove on and turned into the alley. I arrived at our driveway just as the Bobcat was emerging from between the two houses—I was going to get a second chance, and this time I was ready! The cautious cat paused briefly as she approached the open space in our backyard, and I took pictures of her until she moved on out of my view! It was a good sighting and a good photo session!

Later that same day, I was out running an errand. This time my route took me by a neighborhood park. There on the margins between the street and the woods I spotted an intrepid Coyote coming my way. I pulled over, grabbed my camera, put down the window, and began taking close range pictures. The Coyote noticed me, and stopped to stare. He was obviously unused to being noticed and was trying to size up the situation. This move by the Coyote helped facilitate the picture taking and I appreciated it.

A suburban Coyote wearing his thin, summer coat
The Coyote stopped to size me up
We were very close to each other—about 10 yards apart

But, these optimal wildlife photography conditions did not last long. Soon a resident of the neighborhood, out for a morning run, came jogging down the street heading in our direction. The ever alert Coyote spotted him coming, and decided it was time to ditch into the woods. The wary Coyote vanished from view in short order. Meanwhile, the runner passed by just seconds later, never noticing the Coyote at all.

Taking notice of the jogger
Heading for the security of the woods

September 3, 2021

Oddly enough, as I was sitting in the living room working on this very article, some unusual movement in the backyard drew my attention. Through the window I spied a big Bobcat strolling along the top edge of our privacy fence! The Bobcat was headed toward our front yard, so I quickly grabbed my camera and dashed out the door in order to meet him there.

In my experience, Bobcats typically emote annoyance rather than fear when they have been discovered, and this one was no different. She was not happy to see me. As she reluctantly retreated, the Bobcat would glance back every now and again to verify that she was increasing the distance between us. The expression on her face made her mood very easy to read.

My assumption upon having this encounter was that this was the same female Bobcat that I had photographed in my yard a few weeks earlier. But after closer inspection of the pictures I had taken, it soon became very clear that these were two different cats. A few examples of the details I noticed included the following…

  • The second Bobcat has a prominent scar on its nose, while the first cat does not.
  • The coat on the second Bobcat is more vividly spotted than that of the first.
  • The black and white striping on the inside of each cat’s front legs form different patterns.
Notice the scar on the nose of the cat on the right. It is missing from the Bobcat on the left.
Click to Enlarge
Notice the more subtle spotting on the coat of the cat on the left.
The black and white striping on the legs of each cat is also different (red circle).
Click to Enlarge

So, there you go. Two different Bobcats in the same suburban yard, within just a few weeks of each other. More evidence that we really do share our neighborhoods with Bobcats and Coyotes in DFW!