Cats were far and away the top killer of baby gray catbirds in the Washington suburbs, a new study in The Journal of Ornithology finds.
From The New York Times:
|Nearly 80 percent of the birds were killed by predators, and cats were responsible for 47 percent of those deaths, according to the researchers, from the Smithsonian Institution and Towson University in Maryland. Death rates were particularly high in neighborhoods with large cat populations.
Predation was so serious in some areas that the catbirds could not replace their numbers for the next generation, according to the researchers, who affixed tiny radio transmitters to the birds to follow them. It is the first scientific study to calculate what fraction of bird deaths during the vulnerable fledgling stage can be attributed to cats.
“Cats are way up there in terms of threats to birds — they are a formidable force in driving out native species,” said Peter Marra of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, one of the authors of the study.
Previous studies have found that feral cat predation on birds costs billions of dollars in economic loss every year.
Find out how to protect birds in your backyard from cats.
If you own a cat and want to let it outside and protect birds, consider installing a "catio."