Post #49 of 100 days of Blogging

100 to 350 million birds are killed by pet and feral cats in Canada every year. That astounding estimate seems unbelievable. Yet, according to a recent study by Environment Canada scientist Peter Blancher, that is the case.

Although the study’s author notes that the estimated figures are based on the study of data from other countries, and “crude estimates” about the size of the feral cat population, it points to a crucial issue affecting bird mortality.

Pet and feral cats are not the only cause of avoidable bird mortality though. Millions more die needlessly every year because they collide with windows, vehicles, communication towers and wind turbines.

It’s a not all bad news though; all of the above cited mortality factors are within the control of humans. While the figures are certainly alarming, there are things we can do to help reduce these staggering statistics.

We have a new page related to bird mortality on the Bird Protection Quebec website with links to the Nature Canada and Keep Cats Safe and Save Bird Lives. Both of these organizations are useful resources for these issues, and provide ways we can help to reverse the problems.

Here are 10 facts and statistics about the causes of bird mortality you’ll find within the mentioned sources.

#1. The domestic cat is an introduced species that arrived with European settlers to North America in 18th century. It is not a natural predator.

#2. According to Environment Canada, humans cause an estimated 270 million bird deaths per year in Canada. That doesn’t even take into account the impacts of habitat loss and climate change.

#3. Birds that nest or feed on the ground are the most vulnerable to cat predation.

#4. 115/468 species that regularly occur in Canada are vulnerable to cats because of their nesting or feeding behaviour.

#5. Pet and feral cats cause an estimated 75% of bird deaths; pet cats cause 38% of  the total predation.

#6. Twenty-three species at risk in Canada (COSEWIC 2012) are among the potentially vulnerable species identified; all of these birds nest on or close to the ground in open landscapes in southern Canada,two on islands. Predation by cats is mentioned as a concern in status reports or recovery plans for at least 10 of these species.

#7. Twenty-five million birds die from striking windows each year.

#8. 14 million birds are killed every year by colliding with vehicles.

#9. 221,000 Birds die as a result of striking communication towers.

#10. 45,000 birds are killed by colliding with wind turbines.