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Writing on the wall for wild birds

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baker210 | 21:16 Wed 23rd Nov 2011 | Twitching & Birdwatching
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It is an unescapable fact that wild birds are in serious decline in many parts of the country. 8 years ago I recorded 17 species of bird in my garden. Now it is almost void of all species apart from the occasional blackbird robin and sparrow. Feeders and fat balls put out for them rot and even start sprouting due to lack of use. There are many reasons for this but with 11 million cats in this country (RSPB estimate), how can we expect birds to avoid decline? Why on earth do people allow their cats to roam free? Which other animal is allowed unrestricted predation of our precious songbirds? Housecats are obviously no problem, but it is estimated (again RSPB) that 250 million prey items are taken by cats each year, mostly at dusk and dawn. The recent harsh winters are obviously a factor, as is predation by other bird species such as the magpie. Ironically, the RSPB has questions to answer re reintroduction of raptor species such as the red kite and hen harrier. Where these birds enjoy success, songbirds simply disappear. When did you last hear a skylark or a yellowhammer? However, the cat population has to be the most serious concern, given that a single female can produce 30 or 40 kittens a year. SO KEEP YOUR CAT INDOORS, HAVE IT STERILISED OR BEST OF ALL DON'T KEEP A CAT AT ALL! Unless of course tou WANT a silent colourless spring!!!

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Have to agree baker 210, it is very depressing to see the number of song birds declining.
But there are some success stories amongst the gloom. I do hear Skylarks up on the SouthDowns and Red Kites are fantastic birds which mostly scavenge or take carrion and I love to see them in our skies.
Cats are a different story. At the very least I believe they should have a large bell on their collar to give their prey a chance. And I used to keep mine in from before dusk till well after dawn when birds are at their most vulnerable. And longer during the mating season when the fledglings were about. But it's a divisive subject I'm afraid.
I agree, I don't like the idea of cats being shut indoors all the time but they are killing off our song birds at an alarming rate!!

Maybe we need to be cutting down the number of cats we have in this country, just don,t ask me how!
A bit harsh on we cat owners. I have four cats all of which are indoor and only one of whom occasionally ventures outside into the yard. I have bird feeders and feed the birds daily all year round. If your cat goes outside the idea is to feed them well before they are allowed out, and also after the majority of birds have fed in the mornings, and bring the cats indoors in the evening before sunset. I don't live out in the countryside but in a small town and I have lost many of my feathered friends to sparrowhawks and magpies, the blame doesn't necessarily all lie with the pet cats. I had a sparrowhawk fly into the living room window after my cat who was just sitting there (on the inside) - the hawk had a blackbird in it's beak at the time! The bird I am happy to say, escaped. I believe a lot of environmental factors also contribute to the decline in our bird numbers the loss of our hedgerows, pesticides etc.
nungate, there is a big difference between wildlife killing to eat and humans keeping and breeding millions of cats that kill song birds instinctively but unnecessarily.
All my cats are rescued and have all been "done" I like to think I'm a responsible pet owner, and the only one who ventures outside rarely moves farther than a yard or so from the backdoor, well away from the bird feeders. Anyway the alternative was worse than the cats. I lived next door to a pub whose cellars backed onto my living room and we were gradually being infested with mice - I preferred the cats, as best beloved refused to have a dog. I've always been bird friendly, and the feeders are placed so that the birds have a clear sight of any predators, while there is also plenty of cover for them, as there seems to be a growing number of magpies around here. I have sparrows actually nesting somewhere in the wall of my house they come and go via an old waste flow pipe.
More are being lost due to loss of food supplies due to the use of pesticides...loss of habitat including large native trees and the miles of hedgerows ...displacement by other species including woodpeckers being driven out by parakeets in the south...

Last year my garden bird count when I still had a garden (20mins from centre of Birmingham) was 31 types as well as swifts and housemartins flying over and a tawny owl pair in neighbours trees

The loss due to cats is not as great as many think.... but the sparrowhawk took a fair few and the magpies and squirrels took fledgelings
This is the sole reason why I will never have a pet cat. I would be absolutely mortified if it kept killing birds as most do. I'm surprised you haven't had a backlash on here from the many cat lovers who see absolutely nothing wrong in what their pets do. I think you are very brave!
Totally agree with Baker210
The B.T.O did a sparrow hawk survey a few years ago. They said the population was about 130,000 breeding pairs. So,as a rough estimate there are about 200,000 of them in the UK, compared to 11 million cats......
I had a cat for 20 yrs and she was so effectionate and loving . But I swore i'd never get another since i've been so into bird life. Next door neighbours have 3 cats and i find myself watching them like a hawk and rush out to shoo them off.
Luckily her cats are not too much of a problem, as they seem to scarper when they see us now. They are beautifull cats and neigghbour says to just shoo them out so I feel lucky with her being understanding about it.
Totally agree Baker! We feed the birds every day - it costs an arm and a leg to feed them but worth every penny for the pleasure it brings. Twice this week we have chased off an evil sparrow hawk - we hate them and also hate the cats who chase the little birds into a panic in our garden until they often fly into our patio door glass windows.
Can the birds not go nest in the undeveloped countryside ? If, as a species, they opt to take the advantages of urban living, then they run the risks too. Those species that evolve to be most suited to their environment, thrive.

Not that I'm unsympathetic to the cat / bird problem, but it looks like some are tending to go over the top.
Cats will be cats. Crows will be crows. Dogs will be dogs.

Ooops sorry, just read the last sentence or two. All responsible pet owners will and should have their pets neutered.

(Really must read the entire post and not go off half-c0cked, apologies)
'Evil sparrow hawk'. They're doing what comes naturally Anne. They're predators, not fluffy bunnies or sweet little kittens!
In this wonderful world of nature they make sure that only the fittest birds survive.
I agree with having your cat spayed/neutered. The bird population can take its chances along with the rest of the animal world, my cat will be going outside as and when he likes, if he kills he kills. I really have no sympathy with this sort of thing, animals will be animals.
im keeping my cat thank you very much. but she does have 6 bells on her collar she clanks everywhere she goes, no chance she'll surprise any bird!
Bit like yourself then fluff.......
No...I will not keep my cat indoors. But he won't be making any kittens...and he's a wuss who doesn't seem to have progressed from catching spiders.
i don't clank i jangle

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