Last Updated on by Mitch Rezman
We try to stay true to our philosophy and vision about the care of exotic birds but because we love birds we’re always trying to learn a little more. Most of you reading this have birds.
Some of you are thinking of getting a bird and others have had birds. Were all here for the same reason. We love birds. Humans will always disappoint, birds never will.
I’ve seen this argument come up repeatedly in the past year or so. Feral cats are devastating the song bird population. Folks, I don’t buy it. But because I’m the guy without the degree of the white lab coat I’ve got to go out and earn your trust the old-fashioned way.
Fact check the heck out of everything!
I’m old. I read the paper Chicago Tribune almost 7 days a week. On page 2, for those of you who read the New York Times even though you don’t live in a city 900 miles east of here, a political satirist named John Kass talks about any number of subjects several days a week.
Last week John wrote a post entitled “Feral cats, rats and songbirds form unnatural mix” about en-listing feral cats to help reduce the Chicago rat population which makes way too much sense.
I was fine with the article until I read “And that’s what they do,” said Clay, who lives in Springfield. “Feral cats devastate bird populations. The last thing we need is to reintroduce invasive species like the cat.
I am no expert and do not have a formal education – on anything for that matter but for the past 14 years I have studied the activity of both captive and wild birds – full time – not a bad gig if you can get it.
The subject keeps coming up that feral cats are destroying the wild bird population. I live in a campground approximately 30 weekends a year. We have bird feeders and we have feral cats. Thank you to some of my neighbors who have been collecting the cats for spay and neutering, but we still have feral cats.
Thus for more than a dozen years, I have been a student of the interaction between feral cats and songbirds. But people don’t care about my opinion because I don’t have a lot of letters after my name indicating that I somehow made it through my drunken stupor and got some sort of college degree. That’s why I became a numbers guy.
I’m telling you people – these numbers make absolutely no sense. Nobody knows a damn thing about what they’re talking about when it comes to feral cats and the death of songbirds. It won’t take long to get to the bottom of this.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association U.S. Pet Ownership Statistics survey conducted in 2012, there were 74,059,000 cats in American homes
My first question is who’s counting US feral acts – if you Google the term “feral cat population US” it looks as though the number seems to be 50 to 60 million feral cats in the United States.
I found another study entitled New Research Suggests Outdoor Cats Kill More Wildlife Than Previously Thought from the Wildlife Management Institute claims about 30% of the feral cats were successful in capturing and killing prey or about 2.1 kills per week on average. Let’s say one of those meals is Tweety Pie.
“If we extrapolate the results of this study across the country and include feral cats, we find that cats are likely killing more than 4 billion animals per year, – or about 14% of the USA today study “estimate”
If you read the USA Today story they claim that Cats that live in the wild or indoor pets allowed to roam outdoors kill from 1.4 billion to as many as 3.7 billion birds in the continental U.S. each year.
But they go on to say about a third “of the 800 species of birds in the USA” are endangered, threatened or in significant decline, according to the American Bird Conservancy – really?
I took the list from Wikipedia List of birds of the United States listing about 1700 species – by name – more than double the estimate of the American Bird Conservancy – if I had the time we’d track down the number of migrating birds going from one continent to another who landed in America which probably adds another two or 3000 or 4000 species of birds on American soil throughout the year – which gives all of these studies even less credence.
According to The 115th Christmas Bird Count December 14, 2014 through January 5, 2015 there are (64,818,439 in the United States, 3,505,029 in Canada, and 429,539 elsewhere). That total is certainly in the ballpark average for much of the past quarter-century;
how many of these birds will be killed by a cat – today?
Does anyone have a calculator?
re: “If you read the Cats kill up to 3.7B birds annually” 20,000 feral cats killing one bird a week is only 1,0404,000,000 per year 1/3 of USA Today’s estimate – But double the Wildlife Management Institute’s study
20 million feral cats are eating three birds a week
re: “According to The 115th Christmas Bird Count December 14, 2014, there are (64,818,439 in the United States….” cats are killing 100% of the bird population every year – twice.
Not only are the numbers meaningless but if you really look at cats and songbirds you will see that birds can fly – cats cannot. The reason a bird has a standing heart rate of 200 bpm is so that it can be instantly airborne at 25 miles an hour. Mother nature gave bird wings to fly great distances for finding food and for flight at fright.
Everybody is just guessing with these stupid and conflicting numbers. I would like to point out non-predatory birds are prey animals that spend 40% of their waking time seeking food and 60% of their waking time trying not to be food. Birds are far smarter than rodents and far harder to get in the paws of a cat.
A cat can’t jump 6 feet high on a good day and sneaking up on a bird whether it be on the ground or in a tree is no simple task.
One of the reasons is that feral cats tend to be loners. They may sleep together but they’re out looking for food for themselves. Birds are “flock” animals when they are seeking food it is a team effort food is here danger is there everybody is communicated and is part of the team.
The immature bird that gets its tail stepped on by a cat is just that, young and dumb. Because a cat ain’t going to sneak up on a red headed woodpecker – with any success. Woodpeckers come down a tree in a 360° spiral rotation. If anything is out of the ordinary in their global universe – they move to another ZIP Code.
Does anyone still read USA today John Kass?
Written by the Windy City Parrot Content Team