Wild birds have a bull’s eye on their beak
Linda Rodriguez McRobbie’s writes about the traumatic death of her family’s gerbil at the claws of the family cat, but does not mention the impact of pets, especially cats, on wildlife (“When Animals Kill,” Ideas, November 28). Until recently, our suburban yard housed generations of orioles, which in most years nested in a tall willow tree. One summer morning in our garden, I saw a fledgling oriole which was trying its wings too close to the ground, where it was quickly killed by the neighbor’s cat. What bothered me most about this incident was that this little bird had almost made it – its parents had flown thousands of miles north, established territory, found a mate, scavenged nesting material for their woven nest, built the nest, fed and their offspring on a decreasing supply of insects, and protected their eggs and chicks from predation by crows, hawks, blackbirds and jays, only for their offspring be killed by someone’s cat, an animal that does not need to feed, just a creature following its own instincts.
Annual estimates of birds killed by cats in the United States are in the billions.
This is page 123, paragraph 2, in the ‘animal regulations’
In “When Animals Kill”, Linda Rodriguez McRobbie expresses the grief of her cat for killing her gerbil and concludes that animals “follow a rule book that we are only beginning to understand”. But the truth of the matter is, given that domestic cats and non-native feral cats have killed billions of wild birds in the United States each year for many years, it seems to me that we understand the “regulation” fairly well now.