Wednesday 12 July 2023

Do domestic cats impose an unsustainable harvest on urban bird populations?

Do you know what the title means? It is a bit technical as it comes from a study. It is asking if predation of birds by domestic cats kills so many birds of a certain species that the species is in danger of becoming extinct.

Bird-killing cat
My cat. Image: MikeB

And the answer is: we are unsure but it is unlikely. Here are the exact words:

"..the magnitude of the estimated cat catch suggests domestic cats are having a significant impact on prey populations."

'Significant impact' indicates that the birds are not going extinct through cat predation.

The study was conducted by questionnaire of cat owners living in Dunedin, New Zealand, over 12 months. A country where they are very sensitive about cats killing birds. - this is the link to the study if it interests you.

Years ago, I wrote on the same topic and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in the UK decided that cats did not harm the population of any one bird species to make them endangered. The 'harvest' was acceptable.

This would have upset ornithologists who invariable portray the domestic cat as a terrible and destructive predator of birds when in fact cats kill far more land-based mammals and reptiles than birds as the latter are harder to catch for obvious reasons.

Here is the article:

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