> > > I don't mind the "flame", I knew when I wrote it that it could generate some > unhappy responses. When we lived in the city, about all the birds we had > were house sparrows and starlings, and as noted before, relatively hard to > catch since they stayed mostly to the trees. Our two cats seldom succeeded > in catching a bird, and when they did, it was generally a species that isn't > native anyway. At the time, I wasn't a confirmed birdwatcher, and didn't
At the Wilson Ornithological Meeting a few years ago in Guelph, Ontario there was an interesting poster up regarding cat predation. The researchers studied the predatory habits of their outside cats in the country and compared them to data gathered on urban outdoor cats. Both were killing off wildlife, but like good predators, they were lazy about it. The cats would catch the easiest prey items in their habitat, basically maximizing the rate or efficiency of capture. In the country they hunted a large number of frogs and rodents, but few birds. The birds were there, but much more trouble than the other prey animals. In urban settings, cats were almost completely bird hunters, basically because there are few rodents and almost no herps. It worries me more that these cats were so efficient at catching frogs, knowing that there is an unexplained worldwide decrease in frog numbers. As Teresa points out, it is in their nature to be hunters and that is fascinating in its own right. However, cat owners should understand that their cats are not only killing a few birds or frogs here and there, but they may actually be causing local decreases of populations of these creatures (no hard data here, but I am likely not way off on this point). I think this is serious, and we should think about it. Is a cat's happiness worth a decrease in local towhee numbers, knowing that if its happening in your neighbourhood, it is likely happening elsewhere? At some point we have to realize that cats don't just kill a bird here and there, but they may be having heavy impacts on the urban and rural fauna. This troubles me!