The Fledgling

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by carolyncallaghan on July 14, 2009

The Fledgling

July 15, 2009  -  “It all started when a mother robin came to nest in our workshop. She had three babies. After a few weeks the babies where ready to fledge. Yesterday evening we watched the baby birds test their wings in the workshop, it was an amazing thing to see. This morning there was only one baby left in the workshop.”

 

Fledging robin

Fledging robin

“This baby was stuck in a hole, that’s probably why it was the last one left. My Dad got the baby out of the hole and then we watched it fly away. It landed on the ground, and then we heard one of our cats meow. As soon as I heard that meow I yelled: get the cats inside! Then my Mom put the cats inside so the fledgling would be safe.”

 

- Madeline Wadlow, nine years old, a nature lover.

After the incident with the fledgling, I wondered how many birds are killed by domestic cats in Chelsea. The exact number is unknown, but it is estimated that cats kill hundreds of millions of birds each year in the U.S. One study found that 83 per cent of cats kill birds. Another study found that, on average, 15 birds are killed per cat each year.

To estimate the number of birds killed by cats in Chelsea, I dug up a few statistics. According to Statistics Canada, there were 4.5 million cats and 33 million people in Canada in 2006. This translates to one cat per 7.3 people. There are roughly 7,000 people in Chelsea, and therefore roughly 959 cats. If 83 per cent of these cats kill birds, that makes 795 bird killers. If each bird-killing cat kills 15 birds per year, then cats kill approximately 11,925 birds each year in Chelsea. This is an astounding estimate!

Here are some facts to consider: well-fed cats do kill birds; cats with bells on their collars do kill birds; and most cat-killing birds do not bring their prey home to show their people.

So, what can you do about bird-killing cats? Keep your cats indoors or keep them in an outdoor enclosure. Although cat lovers amongst us (me included) do not like to think about losing our pets to predators, perhaps fishers that hunt cats are just doing their job as a predator in the forest ecosystem that domestic cats have worked their way into.

Carolyn Callaghan is the Coordinator of Nature Chelsea.