Update on Bobcats in Tucson Arizona

The water treatment marsh in Tucson called Sweetwater Wetlands has historically been a good place for Arizona cotton rat and bobcat. My brother lives in Tucson and as of 04 March 2021 is now at exactly 50% success rate for bobcats in 2021. He has seen them 14 times and missed them 14 times. There is no particular pattern other than early in the day and late in the day seem best, and if they are around, usually they are fairly tolerant of photographers and general gawkers. Note that Mondays they usually open late due to vector control zapping the mozzies, but otherwise it is open sunrise to sunset. Info on the Tucson Audubon Society rare bird alert webpage. In the past there have been some break-ins in the car park, so if you can leave luggage in the hotel, I do recommend that. It generally is safe and you can check with Audubon Society for updated information.

Photo credit Jose Gabriel Martinez Fonseca, aka the Yapok Catcher. All rights reserved.

Note posted by Charles Hood / Palmdale, CA


  • Bud Lensing

    I have seen bobcats several times over the last few years at the Bosque Del Apache NWR, in central NM. This is an infamous birding location as well.

  • Charles Hood

    I heard Bosque had a “low year” for Sandhill Cranes this year, due to drought. (For those trying to come to SW of USA in summer 2021, the winter was dry in most of the SW.) I think for general visitors, and to factor in other species too, Pt Reyes is best bet overall for bobcats. Sweetwater is always worth checking if you’re on your way to SE’n AZ though, and this winter had a cooperative bobcat family that was being seen often. Another complicating factor for Sweetwater is annual burn-offs, as they try to control cattails. The birding network thinks this year that burn won’t happen. When scheduled, that is usually done in March. Bobcats are like anything else: easy to see… unless you need one for your list.

  • Venkat Sankar

    I thought I’d add on to Charles’s tip recommending Point Reyes National Seashore as an excellent site for Bobcats… Here are the results over 3 trips to Pt. Reyes this winter:
    Late Dec 2020 – 1 Bobcat + 1 American Badger + 11 Coyotes (all on Marshall Beach Rd except several of the Coyotes, which were on Pierce Pt Rd)
    Late Jan 2021 – 5 Bobcats + 3 Coyotes + 1 Striped Skunk (all but 1 Bobcat on Marshall Beach Rd). I also missed a Long-tailed Weasel by minutes on this visit on Marshall Beach Rd.
    Late Feb 2021 – 5 Bobcats + 4 Coyotes (all Bobcats on Marshall Beach Rd)

    The cats on Marshall Beach Rd are used to photographers and quite habituated. You can walk with them for some time, provided you keep a reasonable distance and watch their behavior (make sure they aren’t moving away from you quickly). As Charles says, the park is scenic and also great for many mesocarnivores (Raccoon, Striped Skunk, Gray Fox, Northern River Otter etc.) as well as Northern Elephant Seal.

    The Pinnacles NP area of San Benito County (Quien Sabe Rd, Santa Anita Rd, Old Hernandez Rd, Old Coalinga Rd, and even Highway 25) has traditionally been a very reliable winter site for Bobcats. Not anymore, it seems… I saw 2 Bobcats well in mid-December here (1 Highway 25 + 1 Old Hernandez Rd), but zero cats on two other trips in mid Jan and early March (yesterday). Not sure what has happened, perhaps the ranchers are using rodenticides?

    • Venkat Sankar

      I should note that all these trips I’m mentioning are half day visits to each site, with roughly 12PM-nightfall “on location.”

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