So this happened half an hour ago, at 10 pm.
I’m sitting in my living room, working on the laptop. Suddenly there is a racket in the street. A small dog barking very, very loudly? Surely that’s not a dog? I go outside with my flashlight. It’s 10F and I’m wearing a skirt and a thin sweater and my breath is almost obscuring my vision, but the first new yowl I hear sets my whole body on fire. Hair-raising. Repelling, but oh so magnetic too…
I see two dark shapes moving across the street, about 40 yards away, down the hill in and out of the bushes. A large and a smaller shape. Cat like movements. And that cry: a short, repeated scream from one of them.
My street has no street lights, but there are some small porch lights – I wish it was one of those crystal clear full moon nights we had a couple of days ago. Then I see the eyes: two large yellow eyes sharply reflecting the light from the neighbor’s porch, and perhaps my own flashlight. A pair of smaller yellow (or was it white-bluish?) eyes right behind it.
By now, curious, drawn in, I’ve moved about 20 feet outside my door. The lit eyes disappear and I lose sight of their dark shapes. The screaming too has stopped. They’re invisible, who knows where, and I realize I’m easy prey – no really, that was my realization, here, in a Boston suburb!
I run inside and close the door.
It was this sound, the first one on that page. A lynx or bobcat, maybe a mother and her young.
It was exactly around this time year that I heard the Great Horned Owls singing to each other behind my house. I’ve not heard them yet. The world is full of wild creatures, reminding us of what we are not. How good it feels, to be reminded!
It might have been a bobcat. It’s also possible that what you heard was a fisher. They make a sound similar to that. Here’s a link about that animal:
I had one up a tree in my front yard in Watertown once. I never want to again! The sound it made was ungodly; that’s what drew me outside. I shined a flashlight up into the tree where the sound was coming from and caught sight of a reflection from the eyes, but that’s about all. The reflection was sort of golden, as they reflect light similarly to a cat’s eyes. They will prey on housecats, if hungry enough.
Anyway, a possibility.
Suldog, that is fascinating! I’ve never seen a fisher.
I never saw the animal(s), only some of its outline and the reflecting eyes. I wish I could find a recording of the Fisher to compare it to that scream that is now welded to my brain.
I would not be surprised at a Bobcat in a suburban or even urban setting (probably not the North Shore, though). The good news is that a healthy Bobcat will not attack you unless provoked. (now, if you do corner one then it becomes a flying blender, so don’t provoke it, leave it an escape route). The even better news is that bobcats are so good at living among people without being seen that you are incredibly lucky to have (probably) spotted TWO!
Oh, yeah, my credentials. I’m not just a random person I’m a biologist and I have worked with both wild and captive bobcats.
And, I’m jealous. I haven’t seen a bobcat in over a year.
Wow! Scary. I live in JP and have encounters with coyotes and a fox, but never a screaming feline-y type of animal!
Diana, there was definitely some sort of crisis, it sounded like an alarm call to me. Maybe she was protecting her young? We have a lot of foxes around too. Would they attach them? I love your blog (and the name): I’ll check it out soon.
Rhea, a friend of mine had a coyote stare her down in JP once. Then it came at her and she had to jump on a car so the alarm went off and scared the coyote away.
Bobcats start breeding in February around here. My suspicion would be love was in the air. Usually the young disperse before winter so I don’t think it was mom protecting her young.
Alternately it could have been a territorial discussion. Two bobcats disagreeing over the edges of their territories will vocalize. It’s hard to say for sure since I wasn’t there (based on your description I’m betting on breeding).
Foxes would not attack a bobcat and coyotes would attack young but not if mom was around.
Wow–that’s exciting! :)
Love your last sentence!
Linked to you today on my Google Reader Share.
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