Week 3, Day 2: Predators of the Pajarito Plateau

Our staff sometimes sees bobcats hunting for chipmunks at the nature center. (Photo by Bob Walker)
Bobcats at the New Mexico Wildlife Center.

In today’s post we are exploring some of the Pajarito Plateau’s well-known predators, like the bobcats in this video from the New Mexico Wildlife Center. This film was made last fall, and the bobcats have now grown up, and the Wildlife Center hopes to release them to the wild in April!

Blog Post:

PEEC volunteer and board member Hari Viswanathan shares some information on mountain lions, his family’s experience with one, and his quest to capture a photograph of one on a backyard critter camera. Read his blog post here.

Craft:

One way that prey species, like the squirrels we learned about yesterday, protect themselves from predators is by blending in with their surroundings. Make some camouflage art and see how long it takes someone to find the animals hidden in your pictures.

Instructions are here. This is a great activity for any age. You can draw your own animal or cut pictures from a magazine.

Outdoor Challenge (Beginner):

Find an outdoor area and play a game of hide-and-seek! The hiders are the prey and the seekers are the predators. Both might want to consider wearing clothing that blends in with the surroundings to increase your chances of being undetected!

Outdoor Challenge (Advanced):

Does a prey animal like a chipmunk freeze, flee, or try to distract you when you encounter it? (Photo by Bob Walker)

Observe how prey animals like birds, squirrels, and other small animals in your environment respond to you, a potential predator. Do they freeze, flee, or try to distract you? Does it depend on the prey animal, or how you approach them? How long do you have to be still for them to start to go about their ordinary business again? Let us know what you observed!

Other Resources:

  • The New Mexico Wildlife Center operates a wildlife hospital and educates our local population about indigenous wildlife. Visit their webpage or Facebook page, where they sometimes do live events featuring their animals. Today at 1 PM, join them for a Facebook live tour of their animal hospital!
  • We share our home with large predators like black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, and coyotes. Check out this brochure from the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish on how to live with large predators.

Share Your Experience:

Tell us what you learn about our four-footed friends this week! We’d love to see your photos, too. Please send them to takeitoutside@peecnature.org or share them on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #peectakeitoutside.

We’ll explore scat and tracks in tomorrow’s post!