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This blog is predominately about camera trapping in California. We camera trap to save our souls and to teach primary school students about biology and conservation. We will also touch on other camera trapping news and musings, sets from afar, mediocre herpetology, sucky birding, and other natural history discussions.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Calling Tails

If my last camera trap sets were a coin flip.

Heads or Tails.

Call it Quick.

I hope to FSM that you chose tails. I have a streak going about as good as the NFC had in Super Bowl coin flips.

Oh bobcats.


I got enough bobcats to make Trailblazer jealous for weeks on end, but they were a bunch of tails. 24 of 65 images with critters in them were bobcats. That's 37% for you non-math majors. Quite a haul of bobs. But almost all tails.

Distinct tail pattern. Yin and yang of black and white. Slight U shape of the white tip. Analogous to a fingerprint or does every bob tail have this pattern?

Overall not a bad set. 55% of 119 total images had an animal in them. The wind got a huge chunk of images in one day that dragged that average down. The set was up for 13 days and we got 13 individual visits for a perfect 1 visit/day. The camera took 5 positive images a day, so quite a few of the critters hung around the camera for a bit

Over the 13 days we had 9 separate visits by Lynx rufus. As you will see by these pictures I think they were all the same individual, but I am not sure if tail pattern (see above) is a reliable way to discern individuals. Each and every time the bobcat was going up the ravine showing its tail to the camera.




Possible other individual. Look at the black unconnected bands above the tail tip. Inconclusive in my mind.


I will have to go back through the archives and see if we can pin this (these?) as bobcat mom, pop, or kitten from early 2011 or if the tail pattern is just a red herring.

Either way, I sure enjoy our coastal bobcats and still get excited every time they show up on the little LCD screen. I still need to see one in person in 2012.


  1. You're right! I'm, once again, a shade of emerald after viewing your bobcat pictures!

    Back-sides or front-sides, those are some cool pics.

    I would agree those have to be some pretty specific tail markings for ID of individuals.

    Looking forward to more!

  2. I think the hind legs here could be even more helpful in marking individuals.

    From what I have read (which probably isn't much), tails have not been mentioned specifically as being a strong marker, but their coat patterns as a whole will be very distinct.

    Also, are you holding someone back from this set? ;)

  3. HA! Yep....I flew down there quick and put a few bobcats in head-locks to keep them from going into your camera sets :)

    Yeah, the pattern on the legs would be a good character to look at. I don't know if anyone has ever used tail pattern before (but you and JK might have the largest bobcat fanny-shot data set in the US, so maybe no one has investigated it yet ;) ).

    The tail pattern on the one above really seems distinct.....

  4. I know Codge and random truth have quite a few bobcats too. I think we have two cats here now the more I look at them. The black and white tail pattern is too tough but the black stripes on the tail are much easier to see. Legs are always good but all of these YLR bobcats seem to be almost patternless as far as spots and strong leg banding goes.

  5. Yes, I've definitely gotten a fair number of bobcat butt. Pulling up a few, it looks like that tail marking might be distinct enough to ID individuals. Here's several shots for comparison: bobcat1, bobcat2, and bobcat3.

    1. Yes staring at the tails some more I do think this can be used. Thanks for the links RT. I think this will have to be a future post, maybe even turn it into a quiz and see if people can guess the correct individual.

    2. No prob. I look forward to the quiz. :)