Often the cat is blamed for a decline in the population of some bird species. If you analyse it, it is actually a case of people passing the buck, putting the blame onto a species other than themselves. The cat is the prime target as a scapegoat. We know that the increased activities of an increasing population of people are the reasons for a decline in the population of bird species.
Take, for example, the recent news in the Times newspaper (7th December 2013) reporting that once familiar birds are now a rare sight. Here are some examples. The figures relate to population decline since 1995.
- Yellow wagtail decline of 45%
- Turtle dove down 95%
- Snipe down 31%
- Wood warbler down 69%
- Lapwing down 41%
- Grey partridge down 53%
- Starling down 53%
- Cuckoo down 50%
- Corn bunting down 34%
- Whinchat down 60%
Despite some success stories in bird conservation, the general impression is of a decline in bird species populations.
Over the period 1995 to present (2013) the domestic, stray and feral cat population in the UK has changed little, at around 7-10 million.
If the cat population has increased very little or remained more of less static over this period while some bird species have declined by large percentages we have to conclude that it is not cats that are responsible but people.
Colette Hall, a person who monitors species for the Wildlife Trust, states that the breeding ranges of waders (birds that live on wetlands) are “drastically shrinking”. The main reason is that wetlands are being drained and developed for farming and housing. This is a classic case of loss of habitat, which is the single biggest reason for wildlife species declines across the board.
Phil Grice, a senior environmental specialist in ornithology at Natural England, is working closely with “farmers and land managers” to make improvements. In other words he is working with people.
These, sometimes, quite startling declines in bird species populations are mainly due to human activity. The cat plays a very much lesser role, relatively insignificant. As I have always stated, cats prefer ground dwelling mammals to birds for the simple reason they are easier to catch.
Photo Jonathan Jordan