All around the world, songbirds are disappearing at an alarming rate. Although many of them perish due to habitat loss and poisoning by agricultural pesticides, a startling number of them are killed by domestic cats. In the USA alone, it’s estimated that somewhere around 3 billion birds and close to 7 billion small mammals are killed by cats, including house pets that are allowed to venture outdoors, and feral animals. Spring is the most vulnerable time for baby birds, rabbits, and other wee ones, and we can all do our part to help them survive. Read on to learn how.
Your pet cat might love to play outside, but that moment of pleasure can have devastating consequences for local wildlife. Cats are natural predators, and even the most lethargic, well-fed house pet can (and generally will) hunt birds and small mammals. During the crucial months in spring and early summer when most animals are breeding, nestlings, fledglings, and newborns are all at huge risk of being slaughtered by Mr. Fluffles while he’s out on his daily jaunt.
Grant Sizemore, Invasive Species Program Director at the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) says: “Spring is an incredibly dangerous time for wildlife because newborn prey don’t have the same physical defenses as their parents and have not fully developed the danger awareness regarding predators that comes with time. Spring is perhaps the single most important time of the year for cat owners to protect wildlife by keeping their cats indoors or under their direct control.”
Adult birds that see cats wandering nearby often abandon their nests, causing their chicks to starve to death, while fledglings testing out their wings for the first time are easily picked off when they tumble to the ground between flights. Birds that nest on the ground, like mourning doves, are also in danger of being picked off by cats and dogs that are allowed to wander outdoors, as are baby rabbits, hares, squirrels, chipmunks, hedgehogs, and many more.
All of these animals are vital for a healthy, balanced ecosystem, and each and every one of us can take action to help these beings survive. Cat and dog owners should spay/neuter their pets, and either keep them indoors, or secure them within enclosures like tunnels or play pens, or even on leashes if they want to let them outside.
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