Feral cats are those cats that have grown to live outdoors and gone wild. They are known to cause damage to bird populations due to their hunting instincts. Studies have shown that feral cats have a major role in the reduction of bird populations in several regions.
The population reduction of birds can impact the environment as they have a significant role in the dispersal of seeds and insect control. Read on to find out more about how the feral population can affect the bird population.
How Do Feral Cats Affect the Bird Population?
According to research, feral cats are responsible for killing over half of the 5 billion birds that die worldwide each year. Moreover, it has been demonstrated that cats, who are well-known predators, have a negative impact on the health of chicks.
Birds are most prone to feral cat attacks throughout the fledging season, which lasts from late spring to early summer. The number of birds on the ground rises during this period, and a significant portion of them are incapable of flight, making them vulnerable to cats. Approximately 100 birds can be killed annually by a single wild cat. As the feral cat population increases, their impact on the bird population will keep on rising.
What is the Role of Birds in the Environment?
The environment depends heavily on birds. The movement of plant pollen and seeds involves a large number of bird species. When seeds are spread, a new plant grows, which can subsequently provide food or shelter for other types of wildlife. In addition, birds take part in the biological management of insects, which is advantageous to both agriculture and the general population.
How to Lessen the Impact of Feral Cat Population on Bird Populations?
The cats are simply acting on instinct, so it’s not their fault that they hunt and kill birds. Rather, it’s a result of how humans have impacted the ecosystem, as we are the ones who domesticated cats. Humans brought them to places where they don’t belong, frequently in considerably greater numbers than the local predators. So, the responsibility falls on us to prevent and address the issue.
Here are some ways that we can help reduce the impact of the feral cat population on the bird population.
1. Plant More Trees
Birds can’t find shelter on bare grass. They need natural cover from predators that lush vegetation can offer. To contribute to this, you can include thick plantings of trees, shrubs, or a wildflower garden. You can add them to your garden or landscape design so that wildlife has places to hide. If you employ native plants, the birds will have shelter, food sources, and places to nest in addition to having a shelter.
2. Place Bird Feeders Far Away from Feral Cat Colonies
In addition to needing protection and places to hide from cats, birds, and other small animals also require some open area near feeders and birdbaths so they can see cats coming before they can attack. A minimum of ten to twelve feet should be left between bird feeders, birdbaths, and any potential cat hiding locations.
3. Use Fencing to Deter Feral Cats
Putting up a fence that is at least six feet high can help prevent feral cats from entering properties where birds often visit. Most cats will be unable to climb a six-foot fence if it is constructed of smooth wood or vinyl, and most won’t be able to jump over it. However, you should avoid placing plants just outside the fence since cats will use these as ladders to jump over the barrier. Nettings that are durable and tough, like the YARDGARD Mesh Netting can also give the same effect.
4. Avoid Bird Feeders and Use Natural Methods to Feed Birds
If you find that keeping bird feeders away from feral cats is not a viable solution, try using natural methods to feed birds. You can provide natural feeding sources like plants and trees that produce seeds and berries. This will prevent birds from gathering at one place where the bird feeder is located and potentially reduce cat attacks on them.
As with any wild animal, cats find their prey and kill them even if they are well-fed. Humane measures should be taken to lessen the impact of feral cats on bird populations to prevent environmental consequences.