Guests Among Wildlife: Part III

 

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Photo Credit: David Ohman

The Back Bay and its residents

The Back Bay is home to fish and nesting sea birds, which attracts egrets, blue herons, osprey, foxes, coyotes and bobcats. 

This is also coyote territory, as is most of the entire country. In the search for food, they are at once equally relaxed and comfortable in the wild or around your home. At first glance, these scrawny canines, even with their jaunty air, appear to have seen better days. But, they’re opportunistic and versatile hunters. Whether hunting solo, or as a pair, if it looks edible, they will check it out. Lithe and lean, they have a knack for climbing over backyard fences in pursuit of small dogs and cats with nowhere to hide and limited defensive skills. So bring your pets indoors before sunset. If you and a coyote spot each other at close range, and he does not retreat right away, make yourself look as dangerous as possible by making a lot of noise and waving your arms in a threatening manner. That will usually persuade a coyote to leave you alone. Supposedly, this usually works on mountain lions, too.

In the wide world of big cats, two call this home: the mountain lion and the much smaller and equally shy bobcat. At the top of the food chain in wild Orange County, the mountain lion, rather smallish for a “big cat” (about the size of a cheetah) is without exaggeration, the most elegant and efficient predator in the region, able to bring down an adult deer and anything else with-in that weight class (unfortunately, that includes large dogs, hikers and mountain bikers). Cats do four things better than just about any other animal: they hunt, chase, kill and eat.

Though mountain lions are generally calm and reclusive, their moods may change without notice. An attack can happen in an instant so always be alert when hiking or mountain biking in remote areas. They always have the advantage of surprise so it would be best not to wear headphones on the trail, as that will reduce your level of awareness of the immediate area. Presume you are being watched and measured. 

Birds of prey, most notably eagles, ospreys, various hawks and owls, are a beautiful sight for their flying style as well as their hunting skills.  In particular, owls are designed to fly nearly virtually without making a sound. Unfortunately, that also means they can silently swoop down upon your cat or small dog and pluck them off the ground like so much take-out food. And the hours of dawn and dusk are the most dangerous for your pets so bring them inside for safety.

Click here to read the next installment of Guests Among Wildlife. 

About the Author

David Ohman is the former Editor and Creative Director for Coastkeeper Magazine. He is now living in Denver, Colo., where he works as a freelance photojournalist and feature writer.


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