Saturday, June 16, 2007

Protecting Cavity Nesters from Cats

Cats are natural born hunters. No one knows exactly how many birds are killed by cats each year, but estimates run in the hundreds of millions. One Michigan survey indicated on average a domestic cat killed between 0.7 and 1.4 birds per week. Next to habitat loss and fragmentation, cats are considered the most serious threat to songbird populations worldwide. In a few months, one feral cat can kill all the bluebirds you helped fledge in a year. Since some areas only have one or two pairs of nesting bluebirds, the loss of even one bird can have a real impact on local populations.

Some wildlife rehabbers find that #1 cause of admissions to their facilities is domestic and feral cat attacks. Well-fed cats will still kill birds and animals. A cat with a bell on its collar can stalk silently so the bell does not ring, and even if it did, a bird does not recognize the connection between a bell and a predator. A declawed cat can still climb, and one killed more animals than any other cat in a study in Kansas. A feral (wild, with no owner) cat that is neutered and released will continue to hunt and kill.

Cats can easily jump on top of a nestbox that is at least 5 feet high. Some can jump as high as 6 feet, and Keith Kridler heard a report of one that could jump 7 feet (especially off of a hard surface). A cat can use its curved claws to reach into the bird house and hook fledglings and nesting adults. An agile cat can leap into the air and catch a Tree Swallow dive bombing to protect its' nest.

More info at Sialis!

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