In Response to “Avian Death Rates Continue To Soar”

This letter is in response to the column by Robert Alison entitled “Avian Death Rate Continues To Soar”.
His column shines a beacon on a very alarming situation which is also being seen in the Monarch Butterfly population.
Their numbers are dwindling as well. Largely due to pesticides, but mainly overwintering habitat loss.
And I believe also contributing to avian population decline, along with pesticides and tall buildings, that pollution, climate change, and wind turbines are to blame.
They are not only a human health hazard, but are reportedly responsible for slaughtering large numbers of birds who find themselves sliced and diced in their blades as they go about their business of flying – imagine.
And as for the barn swallows disappearing, I believe that may have something to do with the demise of farms perhaps?
But I take issue with the article blaming “enormous bird predation by cats”.
Shouldn’t that mean the humans who let their pet cats outside in the first place?
And I don’t believe cats should be the only predators cited in the report to be responsible for the demise of the bird population.
Other animals such as foxes, raccoons, rats, and even other birds, often prey on eggs, young birds and smaller avians.
I put out a nesting box this year, and watched as a couple of chickadees called it home.
I was distraught to find it had fallen to the ground one morning, the nesting material dragged out of the small hole, and a pile of beige fur beside it. There were no babies to be found. No eggshells. All had been, I assume, eaten. A raccoon?
And I watched as a robin made a nest in a neighbour’s eavestrough.
She sat on that nest through sun, rain and wind for many, many days.
Then one morning, the nest was on the ground.
No eggs or eggshells. No trace of any babies.
Again, a raccoon?
As I watched all kinds of birds gather around the seed feeder I put out this Spring, I was amazed to learn through research how some birds, sparrows in particular, are happy to pillage another birds nesting site.
And, as an aside, I was amazed to watch the natural pecking order of the birds that arrived to fill up on the seeds.
The grackles made way for the chickadees, astonishingly, given their size.
The turtle doves are at peace with all, and even chase away the odd chipmunk.
The chickadees and the finches and the red polls all seem to respect each other’s space, and each seem to feed at different times, so as to allow enough for all.
My cats can do nothing but watch from behind the screen at the patio door. I do not let them outside, but they certainly love the live action entertainment!
And so, if indeed cat predation is a contributing cause to avian decline, I implore cat owners and guardians and care givers everywhere to be considerate and keep their pets inside.
I understand that cats can become addicted to going outside, and who wouldn’t?
But there are dangers for cats, who are not just our pets but our family members, also.
There are cars.
There are dogs.
There are neighbourhood foxes.
There are malicious people who may see a form of entertainment in abusing cats.
Indeed in the City of Toronto, a recent report found there are an enormous number of cats who are found dead.
There is the possibility of picking up fleas and diseases and bringing them home and into the house.
And to any owner who prefers their cats go to the bathroom outside instead of a litterbox inside the house, I say, deal with it! While the prospect of cleaning out a litter box daily may be daunting, it is part of responsible pet ownership, and much safer for the cat. Otherwise, the cat may use a neighbours garden(!!), or a community sandbox(!!), where children may play!
And for the owners who say their cats need to go outside to be entertained, I say buckle down and make the time to engage with your pet! Why else have a cat? And you don’t need expensive cat toys. A piece of string will do! If an owner doesn’t have 15 minutes a day (yes, that’s all it takes for bonding, say studies) to interact with their pet, their fur-child and family member, why have it anyway?
And so, together, this will be win-win.
Cats won’t be contributing quite so much to avian decline.
And there will be much happier, satisfied, safer house cats.
I’ll meow to that.

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