Another Study Documents Dramatic New Impacts to Birds from Outdoor Cats
ABC media release
A new study from British scientists has documented for the first time, significant new impacts to birds from outdoor cats, reporting that even brief appearances of cats near avian nest sites leads to at least a doubling in lethal nest predation of eggs and young birds by third-party animals, as well as behavioral changes in parent birds that lead to an approximately 33 percent reduction in the amount of food brought to nestlings following a predation threat.
The study was peer-reviewed and published in the Journal of Applied Ecology (January 30, 2013). The study was led by Karl Evans of the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield in collaboration with his PhD student Colin Bonnington and Kevin Gaston of the Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter.
The study was carried out by observing 47 blackbird nests in 2010 and 49 nests in 2011 in Sheffield, England, during the breeding season from March to August and compared nest dynamics following presentation of a taxidermist-prepared cat, a predatory grey squirrel, and a rabbit. The crucial finding is that the natural response of parenting birds to the appearance of predators – alarm calling and nest defense – dramatically affects rates of bird nest predation by third-party animals thusly alerted to the nest, as well as much lower feeding rates of young birds for prolonged periods following the threat of predation by cats…