Sunday, December 24, 2006

Backyard Bird Feeding in North Dakota

House cats, whether your own or feral, are one of the most devastating predators of songbirds, especially at bird feeders. Most people do not realize the extent of this problem because they either love them as pets or only see them with one dead bird at a time. Estimates vary about how many cats live in the United States, but a conservative estimate would put the population at about 55 million. If 80 percent of those cats were a combination of feral or house cats that were allowed outside, and if only one cat in 10 caught one bird per day, 4.4 million birds would be killed per day by free roaming cats . Quite an unnecessary impact! So what can you do to protect the birds that visit your feeder from cats? If you own a cat, do not allow it to roam outside unattended. If the cat belongs to a neighbor, ask them to keep it out of your yard. Feral cats should be caught in live traps and turned over to the local animal control officer. Place your feeder and bird bath a minimum of eight feet from bushes, trees, or other hiding places where cats can wait to prey on visiting birds.

5 comments:

Vegan Vogue said...

It's great that you love birds. I do too, as I love all animals and don't eat or wear them. However, the feral cat problem is a human problem. As you suggested in your post people who own cats should not let them outside. I agree. Unfortunately you and I are both are dealing with irresponsible people. They go to pet marts and buy birds, cats, dogs, and various other animals as pets only to forget the amount of responsibility necessary to maintain them. Once the burden of ownership sets in these animals are neglected and/or left to roam outside. As many of these animals may not be spayed or neutered they soon form colonies and then the problem starts.

I understand your viewpoint. I would love a world were no cats lived outdoors and were not allowed to kill birds. We have to work together to educate pet owners and potential pet owners. The group I work for rescues cats from outside and finds good, thoroughly screened, forever homes for them to live in. We work with pet stores such as Petsmart and Petco that do not sell cats or dogs from breeders. I believe I am trying to help the cats and the birds both by reducing the feral cat population. However, I am not going to torture or kill the cats no more than I would torture or kill a bird. Humans can create terrible situations, but as compassionate animal lovers we cannot embrace inhumane solutions to these problems.

In just a few minutes I am going out to feed feral cats, all of which have been spayed/neutered and will not continue to breed. Once they have been allowed to live their lives I hope these colonies will disappear. However, as I stated above, we must work together to educate the public on pet ownership.

Bird Advocate said...

What you are ignoring, Vegan Vogue, is YOU are enabling alien pests to drive OUR native wildlife species to extinction!
I cannot and will not ever agree with trap, neuter, abandon to kill again.
Who cries for the birds?

Vegan Vogue said...

I'm not enabling anything. If I sat at home doing nothing I'd be an enabler. However, I am out there doing something about it. Using my hands to solve the problem.

The bottom line here is that the cats do not deserve harsh treatment any more than the birds. We are a culture of enviroment destroyers. Own a car? This is a human problem that needs a humane solution. The remedy is not to start choosing what life is more valuable than the next. Who gave us the right to make that decision anyway?

Do I care about and cry for the birds - of course I do. I care about all animals and have realized that I do not have the divine right to decide which ones should live and die. In the past few years i've rescued a robin that sat stunned in a four lane highway and my girlfriend and I have taken countless birds to the Raptor Trust here in New Jersey. None of which were injured by ferals.

I realize there is a huge debate between feral cat activists and bird advocates. We could argue back and forth all day, but the truth is we have a common enemy (for lack of a better word) which is the irresponsible pet owner. People will always own cats and dogs (some of which kill birds too) so spend some time in a pet store handing out flyers and protest pet stores that sell cats and kittens to anyone with a couple of dollars in their pocket. Report homes giving away kittens to anyway that happens by.

In the years I've been involved in TNR efforts we have seen over a 50% reduction in the number of ferals. I'm doing something to help. I'm out there using my hands to solve this problem. Every cat that I have altered reduces the number of offspring and therefore reduces the number of birds that will possibly be killed in the future.

Don't you think I'd rather be sitting and relaxing with a nice beverage watching the birds?

I'm not sure what the solution you're seeking is, but I hope you can at least agree, and understand, that these cats are not being abandoned. I'm not sure why you're being so nasty by using that repeatedly to poke at our efforts.

We must embrace compassion. If we had done this from the beginning there would be no need to have this discussion.

Bird Advocate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bird Advocate said...

Where is your compassion for the billions of native birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians you cat enablers and your alien pests kill each year? How can you deny you enable their destruction?
I am being "nasty" in saying you abandon those cats you dump back into our eco-system? What else are you doing but abandoning them? They are not a wild creature, they have been semi-domesticated and require the assistance of people like you, who augment their subsistence life-style. Many are run over, more are killed in fights with each other, by dogs, diseases, or predators.
Which of us is choosing to act like God? God, or nature through natural selection put our native creatures here, and you are playing God by enabling an alien creature to drive them to extinction.
I want those millions of suffering, subsidized, killing machine cats removed from our ecosystem as swiftly and as painlessly as possible, and the natural order of our predator and prey restored. You want to perpetuate and subsidize the killing until many more of the feral cats and our natural fauna suffer cruel and unneccessary deaths. Which of our viewpoints is best for our ecology?