Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bird lovers see roaming cats as a major threat to many species

Found this article in the Washington Post about the impact of feral cats on wild birds, and it's not pretty.

"In the recent oil spill, fewer than 10,000 birds were killed in the Gulf [of Mexico] that we know of," said Steve Hutchins of the Bethesda-based Wildlife Society. "But literally millions of migratory birds are killed every year by feral and free-roaming pet cats. It's a serious environmental problem."

"This is, as Marra realizes, "a charged issue." For gardeners seeking to attract cardinals, chickadees and goldfinches with feeders, baths and bird-friendly plantings, the sight of a neighbor's cat stalking and killing these feathered friends can be extremely upsetting. Cat owners, however, believe their pets need to be outside and that having a bell on their collar will warn birds of their approach.


The number of pet cats in the United States has tripled in the past four decades, and each outdoor cat kills between four and 54 birds a year, according to wildlife biologists Nico Dauphiné and Robert J. Cooper in a review paper published last year by the bird conservation consortium Partners in Flight. They estimated that at least one billion birds are killed by cats annually, "and the actual number is probably much higher."

"Two-thirds of all bird species are in decline in the U.S.," said Steve Holmer, a policy adviser with the American Bird Conservancy in Washington. "Cats are a contributing factor."

I am a big fan of wild birds (and the natural environment as a whole) so I cringe at the idea of our beloved kitties having such a negative impact on birds, who have got enough troubles these days without being cat lunch.

One more reason to keep kitties indoors, along with the whole "keeping dry" thing we are having to consider these days.......