The data below – presented in a table – is from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. I think it needs publishing here and I hope U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service allow me to publish it verbatim on my website. You’ll see that cats are the single biggest cause of bird loss of life. And you might notice that the figures for the cause of loss of bird life comes from a study by a person whose name is ‘Loss’ (ironically). This is Scott R Loss. He has carried out many studies. He is an Associate Professor at the Natural Resource Ecology and Management of Oklahoma State University.
The next bit of information is important because when you read the table on this page you could think the cat is to blame for the killing of billions of birds. But you have to take a step backwards to realise that it is not the ‘fault’ of cats but of people. Scott R Loss states in his study The impact of free-ranging domestic cats on wildlife of the United States (2013):
“Un-owned cats, as opposed to owned pets, cause the majority of this mortality.”
Irresponsible cat ownership is the sole cause of un-owned cats in society. The concept of domestic cats was intended to mean (or should mean) that all domestic cats are living in homes with human caretakers. There were never meant to be feral and stray cats. Feral and stray cats are a consequence of human failure. We have to accept that.
When domestic cats in backyards kill birds this too is the fault of people. There is no obligation to have domestic cat companions. We have a choice to ‘own’ a cat or cats and we are responsible for them and their behavior. If domestic cats kill birds it is because we have decided to have cats and we have also decided to accept the fact that our cats sometimes kill birds. We are in charge and we can’t pass the buck to the feral, stray and domestic cat. Cats are acting instinctively.
Therefore, as stated in the title all threats to bird life are a consequence of various kinds of human behavior as all the other causes are expressly stated as being due to human behavior. It is vitally important for politicians to recognise this because they are the lawmakers and they decide from a legal standpoint how we deal with the ‘feral cat problem’.
This means that we have a moral duty to act humanely towards feral cats and if we want to limit threats to birds we have to look at our behavior and how to modify it.
Note: all figures on cats preying on birds are based on estimates. No one has ever done a nationwide study in the US. How accurate are the estimates?
Top Common Human-caused Threats to Birds (U.S. only. Ordered by Median Estimate of Bird Mortality Annually. As of 2017.)
|Hazard/Type||Min Range||Max Range||Median/Avg. Estimated|
|Collision – Building Glass|
Loss et al. 2014a
|Collisions – Communication towers|
Longcore et al. 2012
|Collisions – Electrical lines|
Loss et al. 2014c
|Collision – Vehicles|
Loss et al. 2014b
|Collisions – Land-based Wind Turbines|
Loss et al. 2013b
|Collisions – Offshore Wind Turbines||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Collisions – Solar Panels||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Loss et al. 2014c
|Burning -Solar Towers||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Loss et al. 2013a
|All (excluding cats)||542,390,438||1,476,827,586||2,019,218,024|
(excludes cats and vehicles)
SOME ARTICLES ON BIRDS AND CATS:
POLL: how many birds does your cat kill per year? Please complete it to scotch ‘rumours’ of cats killing billions of birds.