The fact that cats eat birds is anything but new, but according to a new study, our feline friends and their feral counterparts are responsible for the death of around 1 million fliers every day in Australia.
The research team states that this is the first research to analyze and determine the number and consequences of a cat’s bird killing habits. Other studies only looked at these values for mammals.
Both Feral and Domestic Cats Were Involved
John Woinarski, from the Charles Darwin University, is the leader of this study. Together with his team, he analyzed almost 200 studies, with some 100 of them concerning the cat population density.
The other around 100 studies involved offered data on feline diets. Researchers took into account both pets and feral cats living in Australia.
Based on this information, the team determined that felines are responsible for the death of specimens from 338 types of birds. This amounts to around half of all the avian species native to the Australian continent.
This number also includes 71 species with a ‘threatened’ status, for example, the night parrot, the squatter pigeon, and the spotted quail thrush.
According to the study results, birds are likely most at risk on the Australian islands and its very dry and remote areas. These revealed the highest bird predation rates, with around 330 birds killed per square kilometer every year in specific regions.
“We found that the birds most likely to be killed by cats are medium-sized birds, birds that nest and feed on the ground, and birds that occur on islands or in woodlands, grasslands, and shrublands,” states Woinarski.
He also said that cats are “likely” one of the driving forces of the ongoing decline of some of the species living in Australia.
The study team determined that while wild felines are responsible for 316 million birds annually, pets can account for another 61 million kills.
A paper presenting the research findings is available in the journal Biological Conversation.
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