Cute But Deadly: Cats are a Far Bigger Threat to U.S. Birds Than Windmills
- What’s the News: After tracking baby gray catbirds with miniature radio transmitters, biologists found that cats were by far the #1 bird killer: 47 percent of the birds died at the paws of pet and feral felines (out of 80 percent that were killed by predators in general). This echoes some biologistsâ€™ view that cats are a destructive, human-assisted invasive species: â€œCats are way up there in terms of threats to birds â€” they are a formidable force in driving out native species,â€ said one of the authors of the study.
- What’s the Context:
- Previous research suggested that cats kill around 1,000 times more birds than windmills do.
- With an estimated 500 million birds killed every year by cats, felines also cause far more deaths than more spectacular (and media-friendly) events, like theÂ 2,000 bird carcasses that recently rained down on Arkansas.
- Not So Fast: While cats were the biggest threat to birds in this study, the lead author notes that the biggest culprit for bird deaths over all is still building collisions.
Reference: Balogh, Anne L., Ryder, Thomas B., and Marra, Peter P. 2011. Population demography of Gray Catbirds in the suburban matrix: sources, sinks and domestic cats. Journal of Ornithology. DOI 10.1007/s10336-011-0648-7 (pdf)
Image: flickr /Â emilydickinsonridesabmx