This article is over 5 years old and may contain outdated information.

Wildlife

Domestic cats to blame for bird deaths

Cats are responsible for about 196 million birds death every year

  • Nov 30, 2013
  • 266 words
  • 2 minutes
Expand Image
Advertisement

They’re lethal killing machines, and they could be lurking in your house or back yard.

Cats aren’t likely to harm you, of course, but they’re putting a serious dent in Canada’s bird population. According to a recent Environment Canada report that examined how human-related activities affect bird mortality, feral and domestic cats are the biggest killers of birds, claiming 196 million lives every year.

Richard Elliot, director of Wildlife Research for Environment Canada, says he thinks people will be surprised to see cats at the top of the list. “We think of a cat as a nice, quiet animal. It’s actually a pretty effective predator.”

Power-transmission lines were the next biggest bird killers, responsible for 25.6 million deaths per year, followed by houses (22.4 million), vehicles (13.8 million), hunting (4.7 million), agricultural pesticides (2.7 million) and low, mid-rise and tall buildings (2.5 million).

Recent news stories have highlighted the dangers posed by structures such as buildings and wind turbines. But Bridget Stutchbury, a York University biology professor, says the threat of cats is well known among those who study birds. “Part of the reason we don’t hear about it is because cat owners don’t want to hear about it,” she says. “When it comes to issues with pets, a lot of cat owners know cats eat birds, but they want their cats outdoors.”

Elliot says there are things people can do to help reduce bird deaths, such as putting wind turbines in locations away from peak bird migration areas and using reflectors on windows to prevent impacts with tall buildings and homes.

Advertisement

Are you passionate about Canadian geography?

You can support Canadian Geographic in 3 ways:

Related Content

History

150e anniversaire : le Mouvement des neuf heures et l’adoption de la Loi sur les syndicats

Pour comprendre les protestations des travailleurs qui ont ouvert la voie à la création de syndicats pour promouvoir les droits des ouvriers

  • 1345 words
  • 6 minutes
Red fox napping on car

Wildlife

Foxes are self-domesticating in the U.K, so why not Canada?

As foxes move from the forest to the city, they show more doglike traits and appear to be naturally self-domesticating in the U.K. — but the same isn’t happening here at home

  • 1276 words
  • 6 minutes
A northern cardinal in a tree

Wildlife

7 ways to enjoy birds in your backyard this summer

You’ll be amazed at the feathered friends you can attract to your yard by following these simple tips

  • 1580 words
  • 7 minutes

Travel

Rare birds

Spread your wings with birdwatching’s elite guard in south Texas

  • 2583 words
  • 11 minutes