Update: About those claims of declining bird populations due to ‘climate change’

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen



Science is a wonderful thing. As time moves on, in a single direction, Science, as an endeavor, corrects past misunderstandings. Unfortunately, corrections seldom hit the headlines. Rather, corrections slowly backfill our store of knowledge eventually coming to the fore, at first in odd places, and finally become generally accepted.

Last October I wrote an essay here entitled “About those claims of declining bird populations due to ‘climate change’“ . The popular press and environmental activists were making wild claims about declines of bird populations over time. The bottom line of the essay was that changing land use, and the persistent drought in the southwest, was generally responsible.

(Well, that and free-roaming domestic cats who wreak havoc on ground- and low-nesting birds in urban and suburban areas.)

My sons are hunters in the area known as Upstate New York – generally, any part of New York state north of the NY/NJ megalopolis. When I visit in the summer, I get a hunting license so I can tag along with them while they walk the wild woods of the Catskills. Getting a hunting license means I also get a copy of the current year’s “New York: Hunting and Trapping Official Guide to Laws and Regulations”. In this years edition, we find on page 74 an article titled “The Young Forest Initiative”.

(Yes, I know, I am supposed to tell you about the birds…I’m getting there.)

The Young Forest Initiative is designed to handle a particular environmental problem in New York State: the lack of forest clearcutting has resulted in a serious decline of some species of birds and small mammals that require young forests – sometimes called transitional forests. The article leads with:

“DEC’s [Department of Environmental Conservation] Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources (DFWMR) recently launched the Young Forest Initiative to considerably increase habitat management on Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) for wildlife that need young forests. Important game species like American woodcock, ruffed grouse, and snowshoe hare all rely on this disturbance-dependent habitat, as do many at-risk species such as New England cottontail, golden-winged warbler, and many charismatic and well-known songbirds such as brown thrasher and eastern (“rufous-sided”) towhee. Population declines of these species are attributed to a lack of habitat that they require for foraging, cover, nesting and raising young. To address this issue, the goal of the YF Initiative is to create, restore and maintain habitat on WMAs so that 10% of the forested area can be considered young forest.”

What has caused this loss of habitat?

“Historically, natural disturbances such as fire, flooding, insect outbreaks, or environmental engineering by beavers, as well as human-caused events like logging and farmland abandonment, created young forests. Decades of suppression of these natural processes and changes in human land use have resulted in a landscape that is largely mature forest.”

To correct this lack of young forest, the DEC says:

“ Today, active land management is required to maintain young forests throughout New York’s landscape. DFWMR is working with the Division of Lands and Forests to ensure that there is ample habitat for young forest-dependent species. Forest regeneration cuts — such as clearcuts, shelterwood cuts, and seed tree cuts, as well as salvage operations following natural disturbance — are one of the tools that land managers use to create a diversity of habitats and forest age classes.”

The bottom line is that the shift away from clearcutting to harvest timber and create pastureland and farm fields, along with suppression for forest fires and, in many areas, removal of “pest beavers” to prevent their dam building which floods the property of rural homeowners, as happens in my area of the Catskills, has resulted in the seemingly good situation of New York state having “mostly mature forests”. However, a homogenized environment is not what wildlife needs. It needs all kinds of habitat niches – including clearcut and burned over areas, beaver-dam created meadows as well as mown hay fields and highway roadsides and fence line hedges.

Here in New York State we find the following situation: “New York state is 63 percent forested — forests cover 18.9 million acres of our 30 million total acres. Much of this land is privately owned and managed for wood or pulp. Most of the land owned by the state is forested.” Of that almost 19 million acres, only 350,000 acres are considered “old growth” (containing a natural succession of trees, oldest being 180 to 200 years old). For us here in New York, that means that the clearcutting of the 1800’s and 1900’s removed most of those 19 million acres of trees. In my area of the Catskills, forests were removed for building materials, both local and to build New York City, to access bluestone deposits (made into sidewalks and curbing for NY City), burned for charcoal, and to create endless, almost continguous, pastureland for sheep and cattle. In fact, in my particular area near the Catskill Park, one finds nearly all the woods are crisscrossed with old stone fences that once separated fields and pastures and whole woodsy neighborhoods are built on tailing piles from old bluestone quarries.

All that change – from mature forest clearcut to make to pastureland, later abandoned back to young forest and, in many areas now, back to mature mixed hardwood/softwood forest – produced magnificently varied habitats for wildlife here. As I highlighted in last October’s essay, the recent declines in some species – remember, most species are increasing – are due to land use changes such as the abandonment of marginal farmland and pastureland – but another change has been in the slowdown – almost a complete stoppage – of the clearcutting forested areas.

Now with the Young Forest Initiative, New York’s DEC is initiating clearcutting five and ten acre plots to restore the natural balance to the environment, making living and breeding spaces for the wildlife that needs transitional and young forest habitats to be successful. Their goal is to have 10% of their managed forests in the process of transitioning from clearcut to young forest to mature forest, all at varying stages over time.

The Bottom Line:

The current view of environmentalists seems to be that change itself is bad, that it is our duty to preserve things the way they are today (or return them to the way they were “when I was young”, or “in my grandfather’s day”). This view slops over into the reports of such groups as the Audubon Society which cries disaster when bird populations are found to be changing — decreasing in some areas – when in fact, bird populations are doing what they always do, they change in step with the changes of their environments.

New York state’s Department of Environmental Conservation has a better idea – stop preventing change, initiate change to improve the environment for native species. Rather than decry clearcutting and the harvest of trees, step up clearcutting, it is not destruction but creation, to make room for species that need those re-growing young forests to prosper.

How cheering to find common sense and applied science overruling the madness of “Stop Everything” we hear so often from the overwrought but under-thinking.

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Author’s Comment Policy: This essay is not about Global Warming, Global Cooling, Carbon oxides, or Climate (changing or not). I am not generally qualified to respond to questions about those subjects and won’t do so.

I will be happy to answer your questions about the essay above or the original essay last October. I like birds.

Anyone foolish enough to take the bait to talk about my opinions on free-roaming domestic cats and their effect on bird and small mammal populations should be prepared to suffer the consequences (chuckle…)

I look forward to reading your comments shared here.

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285 thoughts on “Update: About those claims of declining bird populations due to ‘climate change’

  1. I think my home state of WI does this clear cutting for transitional purposes as about 8 years ago when we were hunting on public land one of the spots we picked for the three of us (My dad, brother and I) was a clear cut area. I’m glad that states DNR’s are realizing that animals, just like ourselves, are creatures of habit, but adaptable to change and we should study more how our current forest management policies are actually affecting natural flora and fauna instead of assuming that clear cutting, forest fires, and floods are bad.

    • As with many issues the conclusions of careful study are pushed to the side by organized activism. Try convincing a legislator under attack by grade school letter campaigns to support treating feral cats as vermin in SW Wisconsin to protect the many species of ground nesting birds. On the other hand, it can be demonstrated that all life is invasive give the opportunity to expand into a new environment. Any justification for picking niche winners and losers beside basic economic self interest is emotional folly. A true “natural area” cannot be a “Nature Preserve”.

      • Reply to Robert ==> Not quite sure what your attitude is about feral cats, but my opinion is that they should be rounded up and euthanized if homes for them — homes that promise to keep them confined to the house or yard of the owner — can’t be found. Just like we do to feral dogs.

      • In my area (eastern Ks ) the majority of farmers and ranchers LIKE the cats ,hate the rodents and the loss and damages they cause . Large areas are off limit to all but trusted hunters , some totally off limits to hunting due to city slicker hunters who think they have the right to tell the farmers/ranchers how to run their land.
        In my area, the biggest threat to Quail is wild turkeys.
        A feral cat won’t make a pimple on the a$$ of a bobcat…..and we have plenty of them.
        Oh , and we still have good bird hunting….
        I think cats are like CO2…their effect is greatly over-estimated…..

  2. I studied birds and worked to improve habitat for birds. The climate alarmism that is suggesting birds have been threatened by climate change is not supported by recent claims by Audbon http://landscapesandcycles.net/audubon-s-bad-climate-science.html Audubon has used climate fear mongering to help fund raising, but the real result is a misrepresentation of how populations naturally change as landscapes evolve, and accurately determining when landscapes change is detrimental and when it is beneficial

    • True Jim, but most natural changes benefit one species group or another possibly new species. Environments, like climates, change and have done for 4.5Ga, so who is to say which is good , which bad. Even mined areas come good in the end.

    • Reply to Jim Steele and johnmarshall ==> The Audubon report, and regional reports from the Northeast, show very clearly that changing/evolving environments affect many species — in most cases, these changes over time are good for some species and bad for others, so the population mix changes along with the environment.
      In my immediate area at the foot of the Catskills in New York, fifty years of bluestone mining resulted in clearcuts, abandoned quarries, and massive tailing piles of scrap bluestone. Today, most of the famed town of greater Woodstock, New York is built nestled into the woods that have grown up on top of those tailing piles.

    • Not to mention, but I will, that one of the biggest killers of birds and bats these days are wind and solar farms. The worst being that raptors are increasingly affected, not just song birds.

  3. Progressive environmentalists have the same intellectual deficiency affliction common to all Progressives, The Never Enough Syndrome.
    If by some stroke of the pen, God or Big Government gave them everything they were asking for today, by tomorrow it would not be enough. So they would be protesting for more, claiming some new level of insufficiency exists, demanding evermore. The only cure for rational society is too ignore them like the spoiled children they have become.

    • And if by some stroke of bad luck progressives gained the ability to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as much as they wanted, they would end up killing us all.

      • Let Obama play with his global warming toy all he wants, while CO2 keeps increasing on its merry way to make planet Earth a better place to live. Earth dynamics is well contained by self-regulating negative feedback the meaning of which escapes alarmists’ ability to understand. In the last 17 years CO2 level increased by 38 ppm, while the real global temperature keeps coming down. CO2 is what all life on our planet is made from, and there is never enough of it satisfy the demand by all vegetation to thrive. Advanced greenhouses add 3 times the ambient level of CO2 and show production increases up to 40%. Whatever little CO2 humans can produce can only add up to benefit the life as we know it, if effective at all.

    • That is by far the best description I’ve ever heard for their mental illness. It should be in the DSM. Totally agree on the treatment!

    • Another good example of “The Never Enough Syndrome” is here in the UK. The govenment has just introduced a rule that large businesses now have to charge customers for plastic bags, but businesses employing less than, I think, 50 people don’t have to. .Whilst I think this is a good rule, the campaingers are immediately chanting “Not Enough, Not enough”. They now want a complete ban. I wonder what their chant will be if they succeed in that.

      • and the majority of households actually used reused those bags as they were reasonable strength, for storage of bits n bobs or to put the garbage out in..
        so what happened in Aus when our leaders did this?
        people pay for better thicker bags and many reuse them still, a lot dont.
        and the others buy woven nylon bags for a dollar that disintegrate to really foul nylon dust in 12 mths or less in sunshine ie no good for shed storage.
        and the sales of binliner bags soared!
        what did it solve or remedy?
        bugger all!!!
        made more profit for big biz plastics in truth

      • It is 250 staff not 50. And then there is a list of products which can have a free bag unless you put something else in it that isn’t on the free list. The government are charging VAT on the 5p charge and the remaining money might go to charity but there is nothing in law to say this. A simple idea given to bureaucrats emerges in pages of confusion. The idea that bags get reused around the home is lost on them but then the aim is to reduce litter as well as reduce the number used.

      • On a similar and related topic (to the plastic bag regulation) I have just spent the last two days cutting up a tirolia stove (like an aga) in situ, in my kitchen and hauling the boiler and various filthy parts through into my garden.
        I used two kinds of angle grinder, a 580watt grinder for thin metal and a 2000watt grinder for some more hefty parts.
        Whilst doing this job, I also had to continually remove 20 years of soot and ash, plus angle grinding debris.
        I used my 2300watt Hoover to do this. Sometime on reduced power and sometimes on full power because the job required it.
        The alternative would have been to brush up the soot and debris as I went, which would have created large amounts of hazardous airborne dust and caused me to become exhausted.
        It occurred to me whilst I did all this, that the vacuum cleaner that I was using has now been removed from the E.U. market due to restrictions on maximum power rating.
        Sadly, for the job that I was doing, a 700watt floor sweeper would not have sufficed.
        Just as I DID have to use my 2000watt angle grinder, I also DID have to use all 2300watts of hoover power for the more stubborn soot removal tasks.
        Who are these morons that they should dictate that people shall not hoover at above 700watts?
        And has it not occured to them that whilst in my situation I may have eventually managed, I may have saved approx. 20 pence worth of leccy, at the cost of wasting maybe an extra 2 hours of my time, slaving, whilst breathing in massive quantities of soot.
        Yes, I suppose that wasting time pointlessly slaving and breathing in soot, would be their prefered options.
        Victorian England, here we come!!

      • Ridiculous it is, IMO.
        About ten thousand of those bags equal like two ounces of plastic.
        They should do something useful, like walk around picking up litter if they are so concerned.

      • Reply to Plastic Grocery Bags ==> There exists a solution to this whole flap — there is a formulation of plastic for these bags that causes them to disintegrate after a time in either sun or water (in a land fill or in “the wild”). This is the best compromise I have heard of — if they get loose the do what paper napkins do, fall into little bitty , nature-usable particles — and the same in land fills.

      • @Kip Hansen
        Yes, I believe it is a cornstarch based plastic. Just don’t confuse the two, or you may wind up with your onions all over the floor at some point!

      • “there is a formulation of plastic for these bags that causes them to disintegrate after a time in either sun or water (in a land fill or in “the wild”)”
        Yeah the one big piece now becomes lots and lots of little ugly pieces. Had a forgotten trash bag deteriorate at the back of my yard, heck of a time picking up all of the pieces which continued to come apart. And all of the ugly smaller pieces are still unnatural plastic. Of course some don’t have a problem with a beach site (for example) loaded with this kind of broken down washed up plastic as long as it’s still “disintegrating”.

      • Er ….
        Sorry to nitpick, but for “UK” read “England”.
        Scotland has had this for over a year and I have to say that the reduction of plastic litter is most welcome.

      • We already have a complete ban in our part of the UK but you can buy 100 plastic bags, without those annoying little holes, for £1. The campaigners now want an end to all packing.

      • The same companies that make the binliners also made the plastic shopping bags. It’s not so much more profit as profit changing from one product to another.
        PS, the binliners use more plastic than did the shopping bags, so they take up more room in the dumps and break down more slowly in the wild.

      • Frog: It’s a safe bet that none of the people who passed the law limiting the power of vacuums, has never actually used a vacuum.

      • When vacuums have less power, people spend more time vacuuming.
        Most of the so called savings in electricity disappears right there.

      • …hadn’t ever heard of the wattage restriction. Kinda like the low flush toilets that need flushed two or three times.

      • Of the gazillion plastic bags used a comparative few end up free range. Like most leftist causes, banning them is a complete over reaction and ignoring the good. Better to use those reuseable sacks that breed all matter of bugs and crust to lay your rolls and butter in? Not in my mind.

    • Good point Joel.
      I have often wondered why they excoriate conservatives the way they do.
      If there was never an opposing voice to their madness, they would go totally of the deep end, and must know it.

  4. Man is part of nature. Without us, nature is incomplete. We build, burn, chop and grow stuff. We are and have an influence. Nothing wrong with that. Usually.
    Well…. watch those beavers, eh? They look Canadian. Dam fine animals deserving floods of praise. Bit stubborn, eh?

    • Muskrats are the neutralizers of beaver and human built dams. The wetlands here are always changing.

    • Reply to Crispin ==> In my area, the DEC will happily send someone around to relocate those pesky beavers who have, seeming overnight, turned your 3/4s of a million dollar front yard into a swamp and then you can hire a crew to come and remove the beaver dam.

  5. Change is neither good nor bad, it just is … and for the environmentalist that objects to any change, he will one day achieve his ultimate goal of no change … death, while life passes him by, changing along the way, every day.

  6. Some of the best elk and turkey hunting in eastern AZ is in the mountains where logging was done by clear cutting, has regenerated substantial forests, and then, has been selectively logged in patches and areas. The mix of meadows, brush, and young trees, and maturing forests leads to a fantastic range of habitat and an abundance of big game, small game, and non-game animals.

    • Reply to Kevin ==> Very localized wind farms will kill some birds — unfortunately, the rarer types like soaring raptors. On my recent trip, NY-Oregon-NY, we saw quite a few wind farm installations, 80% idle, mostly on wide open farm fields and grazing land.
      I do fear that large raptors in particular are endangered by wind farms, but I also think that there is probably some simple little thing that could be done, something added to the blades or whatever, that will cause the birds to avoid then altogether…I think someone will come up with in over the next few years.

      • I was thinking perhaps some kind of sonic beacon that either they hate the sound of or causes them to learn avoidance the Darwinian way.
        Better to ward them off to begin with of course.

  7. Birds will catch other birds on the wing, I’ve seen eagles catch snakes out of a bed of reeds, then of course robins are good at catching worms, blackbirds will overturn leaves to get the critters moving, flycatchers are well named, cedar wax-wings like berries, swallows will patrol an open field or near shore waters for insect hatchlings, then there are hawks and sparrows, etc.
    A lack of birds indicates a lack of the birds preferred meal.
    They can move to better pastures easily, they can fly.

    • @u.k. (us), Thank you for your description, 25 years ago we moved on to a small acreage, It had a 7 acre mixed orchard but not much else , over the years we planted a few more fruit trees on the lower perimeter, other trees like mountain ash, spruce and and a few pines and also wild rose bushes, berry shrubs and had a vegetable garden, before that time we saw very few different species of birds ( sparrows, robins etc some quail).
      But we see so many birds now, it’s hard to keep track of. The area that matured I think is less than 1 acre but the variety is astounding. ( I just wish the falcons and hawks would leave it alone but hey, that’s nature and they were not here before either! But the eagle that got one of our cats has been banned!)

      • I’ll bet you have no appreciation of the irony in your comment. Shame, because it is quite quite amusing. 😉

    • More on wild bird mortality caused by cats (domestic and feral) is found in the alarming report by the Wildlife Management Institute at the site below.
      Here in Maine, one of the most heavily wooded states in the USA, we have an issue of a rapidly declining cottontail rabbit population due to loss of habitat (meadows, etc.). One issue specifically identified is the reduction in clearcutting in recent times.

      • Reply to Tom Lea ==> Quite right — in suburban and family farm areas, it’s the cats that kill small mammals and birds. In my area: baby rabbits, voles, wood mice, baby squirrels, chipmunks, and ground- and low-nesting birds of all sorts.
        When the two cats living on the 2 acres owned by my sons finally passed from old age, the chipmunk population boomed once again. I expect the flying squirrel population will follow.

      • I lived on a property with fruit trees, next to a lady who supported a pride of feral cats that lived on her roof. We had great fruit harvests until we got two dogs who kept the cats at bay. Then the black rats and squirrels moved in, eating all our plums, nectarines, persimmons, and pomegranates before they ripened.
        Birds newly safe from cat predation nested in a 12 ft hedge outside my window. One evening I saw a rat climb to the nest and merrily chomp all the eggs.
        I like birds, but I have no problem with cats chomping the slow-witted ones that might have succumbed to some other predator had the cats not been there. And when your food is being eaten by rodents, a dead baby rabbit, squirrel, rat, or vole is not a grievous discovery.
        Of course, reason will not dissuade those who are still imbued with the witch-hunt indoctrination that helped spread the black plague from self-justifying their torturous inclinations toward cats.

      • The only thing I know about cats, I learned from my sisters wild beast.
        She would let it out at night, sometimes it would come home unscathed, other nights a bloody mess.
        What it was up to at night, I can’t even imagine.
        I used to play fight with her cat, it knew me so it was just play fighting, but when it went into (at the flip of a switch) full fight mode, you get all the claws out and a crazy muscle strength.
        The good old days.

      • I trained my cat to not hunt birds from an early age. I have no problem with the rats, mice and voles that show up on my door step. She gets huge praise when she bring me a mole 🙂 Last year a bird hit a window so I looked out to see if it was dead. The cat was near so I watched to see what she would do. She moved close to the bird but sat and watched till it recovered and flew away. I wish more cat owners would try to train their cats rather than accepting it’s the nature of the beast.

      • gyan
        You are a star.
        W strive to train our cats.
        With, I think, a little success: they stop clawing the carpet (there are scratching posts . . . . ) when warned & finger waggled. For a bit, only.
        WE, however, are trained to open doors . . .
        Dogs have masters.
        Cats have staff.
        Auto appreciating your success.

      • Maybe you just did not see them because they kept out of site with cats lurking about?
        And I do not think many would mind if a cat ate every single rat and mouse within 100 yards of their home or barn. But they can never do that.
        There are always ones which are much more skittish and shy.

      • “other nights a bloody mess.
        What it was up to at night, I can’t even imagine.”
        Almost surely fighting with other male cats over a female in heat. Or just territory. But it usually only gets bloody when mating rights are involved.
        This is almost always restricted to unneutered males.
        I have had a lot of cats over the years, and including ones that my family and friends had, that I know the history of…it is many many dozens.

      • “More on wild bird mortality caused by cats (domestic and feral)”
        This WMI report does not give any justification for the estimated number of feral cats, in the US, just gives it as 60,000,000.
        There are about 3000 counties in the US. Many of these are places where there is nothing but wheat or cord growing. Many are in places like Utah, or Wyoming, or other difficult habitats.
        In such places, the idea of thousands of feral cats per county is plain nonsense.
        But just using the whole numbers, we get a figure of 20,000 feral cats per county.
        For a typical Florida county of 600 square miles, this is over 33 cats per square mile.
        Clearly there are many places where the number is at or close to zero feral cats.
        But these numbers suggest that there are, at the very least, over 33 cats in every single square mile of Florida.
        But all you have to do is consider that there are people is concentrated clumps all over the country, and few cats compared to the number of people.
        I would bet umpteen gadjillion quatloos that if we combed every inch of the country, we would not find anywhere close to this number of wild domestic cats.
        In fact, those numbers are ludicrous to anyone who stops to consider how many cats would have to be luring about.
        It would literally be a vast hidden secretive horde of invisible ninja puddy tats, on a continuous bloody rampage of death…that no one ever sees much of.
        Sure there are wild cats, bunches of them in some places.
        But cities of them?
        An eye roller.

        • “In fact, those numbers are ludicrous to anyone who stops to consider how many cats would have to be luring about.
          It would literally be a vast hidden secretive horde of invisible ninja puddy tats, on a continuous bloody rampage of death…that no one ever sees much of.
          Sure there are wild cats, bunches of them in some places.
          But cities of them?
          An eye roller.”
          Keep rolling your eyes…..reality is a fascinating place to live!
          There are huge organizations that support the massive feral cat population across our company. Here’s what a huge organization dedicated to supporting feral cats says:
          “Neighborhood Cats believes Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the most humane and effective method available to end the severe feral cat overpopulation crisis faced by this country. Our mission is to make TNR fully understood, accepted and practiced in every community.
          “To accomplish our goals, we work on both the local and national levels. In New York City, where we are based, we have guided the development of one of the most comprehensive community TNR programs in operation today. To promote TNR throughout the United States and beyond, we have created award-winning educational materials, including books, videos and online courses. We host the leading website in the field, present at conferences and seminars throughout the country, and regularly collaborate with other organizations to develop new materials and tools.
          “Tens of millions of cats living on the streets and struggling to survive is today’s reality. Neighborhood Cats is determined to make sure the same is not true tomorrow.”
          While your eyes are rolling, do-gooders are encouraging and supporting the tens of millions of wild cats roaming every square mile of America. Believe it or not.
          Here’s just a few of them:
          And specifically, for Florida, since you’re focusing on that state:
          ” B. In Florida: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) estimates that the population of owned cats in Florida is about 9.6 million, and the feral cat population may be 6.3 to 9.6 million. [FN7] Based on ABC’s poll showing an average of 35 percent of owned cats are kept exclusively indoors, the number of owned and feral cats, combined, that are outdoors and potentially preying on wildlife in Florida is in the neighborhood of 12.5 to 15.8 million.”

      • More quoted numbers by people who have every reason to want to exaggerate.
        Made up numbers.
        I know that there are a lot of feral cats. Ten million would be a lot. Too many.
        If you think there is one feral cat for every five humans in this country, I can not help you.

      • Florida has a human population of 19 million and change.
        I am sure there is not one own cat for every two persons, just as I am sure there is not one feral cat for every two persons.
        There are a lot of cats, but there are not as many cats as people in Florida…or any other state.
        I think you must just love to believe what you are told without stopping to actually think about it the way I am trying to guide you.

      • These numbers for owned pets have serious and glaring methodological flaws.
        Unscientific polling, triple counting by such factors as not taking into account that if three people live in a household, then all three own a pet, even if it is only one pet, failing to account for difference in response rates for people who own vs people who have zero interest in pets…
        I bet one would get better numbers by looking at the amount of cat food or cat litter sold.
        If there are 19-20 million Floridians, no way are there 10 million owned cats in Florida.
        And I bet they just guessed that there was one cat living feral for every owned cat…how else would these numbers just line up like that?
        My look into this over the years has convince me that a lot of such statistics are little more than back of the envelope calculations done by someone using sloppy reasoning, and once quoted, such stats take on a life of their own…sort of the way that it became common knowledge that salt raises blood pressure…based on nothing at all. No studies ever showed it did. No epidemiological evidence was ever compiled before doctors began telling everyone to avoid salt.
        Even after being debunked, people, including medical professionals who were involved in proving there is no link whatsoever, still cling to the disproven idea.
        I can not understand why some people will decide that something just needs to be believed because someone else said it and wrote it down.

      • “Keep rolling your eyes…..reality is a fascinating place to live!”
        I know…perhaps you should try it sometime, if you can ever get over your addiction to made up scare stories and ludicrous projections with little basis in objective fact.

    • @ maudbid ,
      It seems like you had something to say, if you did it didn’t across well, maybe you want to say it again.

  8. This article seems rife with the possibility of unintended consequences. I don’t think the author intended that, but any time I read of spontaneous reassignment of land use I often find unintended and undesirable consequences. I will also add that I do believe change is bad for today but that change is beneficial for the future. All changes in our past have accumulated in today and it is pretty good. There is unknown risk, though, because we don’t necessarily know who the winners will be in that future. It could be Democrat/Socialists, right wing evangelical nutters, or fire ants. We don’t know. Being a big fan of hard science that succeeds all wacko crazy hypotheses, I’d like to thing solid science will prevail.

    • Reply to dp ==> I suppose you mean that NY’s Young Forest Initiative is rife with the possibility of unintended consequences. Alas, as with all plans of mice and men, there is always that possibility. In this case, DEC foresters have lots of historic data on effects of clear-cutting and regrowth. They are apparently involved in a real-time experiment to discover which works best for the specific purpose, 5 or 10 acre cuts, and are experimenting with shelterwood cuts, seed tree cuts and the salvage of timber from fire damaged areas and blow-downs.

  9. It;s the same in England. Traditional methods of coppicing woodland, laying of hedges and graizing to keep down scrubland largely ceased and have resulted in a lot of the old habitats disappearing. Removal of hedges and growing of monoculture forests and crops made things worse for wildlife. In many areas, traditional methods are increasingly being used, but it is a labour-intensive and expensive process.

    • So, introduce more variety, coppicing, charcoal making, truffles, mushrooms, forest products, increase the diversity, get added value. free range pigs, bit wild but hey somebody can and will do it if given the chance.

      • We have free range pigs in the UK, these are wild boar escaped from farms, do lots of damage but taste very good.

      • There is an epidemic of those wild hogs here in the US.
        Unbelievable what they can do to a lawn in one night.
        A herd of them walking towards you all alone is a fearsome sight…even when in a car.

      • Reply re: wild pigs ==> On the islands, wild pigs are the most destructive element and are hunted vigorously, both because the supply lots of bush meat for the hungry, but governments encourage the effort to eliminate them.
        In Florida, wild pigs destroy croplands, dig up the woods, and present some danger to people. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sets huge live traps to study, remove/relocate, and eliminate wild pigs. In one conservation area near Cape Canaveral, local police officers are given special licenses to hunt the wild pigs at night in an attempt to remove them entirely from the fragile ecosystems there.
        Similarly, the Kennedy Space Center, on Cape Canaveral, has a very serious wild pig problem and, I believe, bring in professionals to keep down the population.

      • Nicholas:
        … Passel of hogs (or sounder of swine); and they are difficult to herd.
        I don’t know why we need professionals to remove them (in a lot of cases). Just tell the high school kids that they can now do what their great-grandfathers did when they were young.

      • Don, The incident I was thinking of occurred a few months before I moved to Fort Myers. I believe the year was 2011, and I was living in Altamonte Springs, and my warehouse and office were in Sanford Florida.
        We had noticed entire lawns in our office park being torn up as if by a plough. Some in our office recognized the damage as being caused by wild pigs, when they put their huge teeth into the ground and walk forwards, completely removing the sod while they apparently sniff out any grubs and eat them. The damage is such that it would take a front end loader or grader to re-level the dirt, and new sod or seed planted.
        Anyway, I was going in to the mostly deserted office park on a weekend afternoon, and coming up the road towards me was what I guess was a family of these beasts, maybe ten or twelve individuals, from normal pig sized and colored to huge ones the size of a large cow it seemed, although wider and not as tall, with brown to black fur and giant teeth, seemed like a foot long perhaps. They took up the whole road and were walking in a random pattern, mostly to a pace set by the biggest ones.
        They looked easily big enough to completely wreck my pickup truck if they took a mind to it.
        Google wild pigs if you have never seen how big they can get, or the fur and teeth wild ones have…look nothing like farm pigs.
        So it was a passel, or a family unit, maybe not technically a “herd”, but they was big and a lot of them and scary looking as all get out.

      • TW, this area is about 40 miles from the Cape. I was on my way back from my usual weekend day trip to Playa Linda Beach at the National Park at Cape Canaveral. Great place to go and read.
        Anyone want to hear about the time I was swimming on a deserted beach there and was 100 yards from shore, when a 18 inch dorsal fin, cutting through the water straight towards me, caught my attention?
        Oooh, baby. Sure glad that day that I was a sprinter in my swim team days…

  10. @Kip Hansen; I live in mixed woods an hours drive from the nearest town and our biggest problem with bird population decrease is caused by bird hunters! specially the ones that shoot cats on sight. After I put out word that I would hunt down and shoot these poachers. The birds and cats have lived in peace. And I can enjoy the quiet no longer disturbed by gun blasts. 😉 …pg

    • An interesting claim, though bogus.
      There are specific hunting seasons for birds. During these brief hunting seasons, specific daily, total in possession and even yearly limits on birds are in force.
      Hunting is patrolled and rigidly enforced by an experienced cadre of wildlife officers.
      Bird hunters?
      Bird hunters that shoot cats on sight?
      And you’ve supposedly threatened these unknown persons through vague and very unreliable word of mouth? That you, personally will hunt down and shoot poachers? That sounds very much like a looney spouting nonsense while walking down the road.
      Now, all of a sudden you end by calling the ‘bird hunters’ poachers. By your descriptions and apparent lack of knowledge regarding hunting laws, why do you call them poachers?
      There are unprotected birds that are considered vermin; grackles, starlings, English Sparrows, etc. House cats that are pets are protected in that the owner can sue for damages. Wild feral housecats are generally considered vermin.

      • If You are hunting on private land without invitation, you are a poacher, an armed thief.
        I know all about hunting. Long ago, I hunted, not for sport, To eat. There is no “Sport” in blasting wildlife with a firearm. I spent 4 years in the Southeast Asian war and would rather not listen to gunfire.
        You need to have better manners…pg

      • I agree…bird hunting for sport?
        I knew some people in central Florida who would go out “shootin”. Just shoot every dang thing that moved. Borders on criminal if you are not eating what you kill. I would not mind making it a crime.

      • Menicholas:
        It is already a crime. Just contact your local DNR or wildlife officer. Cell phone photos can be submitted for identification and proof.
        Florida does have a lot of exotic invasive species they want out of the swamps; but there are still laws against waste. Killing the critters and leaving the carcass is considered bad form if not outright illegal.
        There is no license to shoot everything that moves.
        A number of states reward hotline tips. Violators of hunting, fishing or conservations laws are subject to having everything used in the commission of the crime seized; guns, gear, vehicles, watercraft are frequently seized when violators are arrested.
        Department of Natural Resource (DNR) officers take every one of these offenses very seriously.
        Only the landowner or someone specifically identified by them can legally determine who is a trespasser and if they are trespassing. If you’re neither, you have no business making that claim.
        If you are so empowered, call the law!
        While the DNR or wildlife officers do take an interest in trespassers, local police will detain/arrest trespassers.
        No matter what your background, spurious accusation, over the top exaggerations or groundless claims regarding lawful activities are serious issues. They harm people, families and legitimate conservation activities.
        In USA, the vast source of funds for conservation are from hunting and fishing licenses or Federal excise taxes on their gear and ammunition.
        Sportsmen and ladies are the main drivers towards genuine and real wildlife restoration and conservation.
        Yeah, you know about hunting… Even in that statement you insult those of us who hunt and have spent substantial time contributing to wildlife restoration.
        No one is empowered to ‘hunt and shoot’ trespassers or even killers destroying wildlife. Nor is anyone empowered to harass people engaged in the legitimate pursuit of shooting or hunting.
        If you think they’re breaking the law, call the police or DNR officers.
        For your information, I still hunt to eat. Most middle income to poverty level folks hunt and fish for the food first; to be outdoors second.

      • AtheoK,
        i should amend my comments.
        There are instances where culling or hunting for reasons other than food may well be called for, such as nuisance gators, these dangerous wild hogs, if a person is out hunting and a bear is charging, the situation in PA where there are simply way too many deer due to a lack of predators, and insufficient carrying capacity of the land to support the existing numbers through a winter. Better to thin the population than let them starve to death for lack of food, or cause traffic fatalities.
        In such hunts or, my understanding is an effort is made to try and get the meat to a food bank if possible.
        I did not think anything wrong was occurring to hear about shooting water moccasins, but to shoot a hawk was, to me, outrageous.

      • Menicholas:
        Shooting raptors anywhere, along with gulls, seabirds, buzzards, condor, etc. is a Federal crime.
        Yeah, I’ve ‘seen’ said birds on television that they claimed were shot. I have never seen said birds in person that were actually shot. Cars and trucks are far more dangerous as they strike the birds on the road trying for road kill.
        Culling? Hunting for food is far more efficient and far cheaper as people pay for their own time, gear and ammunition.
        Suburban and urban areas that harbor deer yet restrict or forbid hunting are where deer are most problematic. Yes populations are up in many areas, but wildlife departments try to establish seasons and harvest bag limits with the intention of controlling the deer populations. Which is why most areas that allow hunting have far less of a deer ‘problem’.
        Many states, e.g. Pennsylvania, have programs called ‘Hunters for the hungry’ where good meat is donated for the needy.
        Food banks in a number of states share out significant portions of venison and other meat from hunters. Technically that includes butchers as far more meat is donated than there are butchers to grade and cut the meat up. So many of the involved butchers donate significant amounts of their valuable time.
        And I oppose needless killing, period. While water moccasins are not found in Pennsylvania, copperheads and rattlesnakes are.
        I catch a copperhead on my front porch area roughly every other year or so. In twenty years, I have only killed one that refused to allow me to catch him. That snake was sacrificed for the safety of the family.
        All of the others were caught and let go deep in the woods.
        I didn’t even kill the black snake hanging from the tree above my goldfinch feeder. Usually black snakes are so amenable that they are easy to catch and carry to elsewhere. I’ve never knowingly killed a black snake, rattlesnake and many others. Snakes are generally good critters to have around.
        While black bears are not tame cute little critters, nor do they charge every time you see one.
        In Louisiana, gators are hunted in season for both it’s hide and meat. Very little of a gator or pig is wasted.
        Hoghead cheese is a treat aspic in Louisiana and surprisingly in Pennsylvania too. Though Louisiana’s is far more spicy. In Europe, hoghead cheese is termed an aspic or pate. Pennsylvania has scrapple that serves a similar purpose to hoghead cheese; i.e. everything of a pig is good food but the grunt. Better termed, waste not, want not.
        Lastly, an official cull often results in wasted meat and hide. Culls seek to reduce herds by substantial amounts. So a licensed cull in a city park results in far more dead animals than any one or several butchers can handle.
        Consider that a farmer with a deer problem, or pigs, can get a waiver or special license from the state to immediately reduce a problem population. By word of mouth a farmer can solicit and receive sufficient trusted help from hunters to effect the necessary reduction and not one critter is wasted.

  11. I can’t speak about Limousin having only been here 3 years. Previously I spent 30 years living in the outskirts of Derby in the UK. Over those years there was a change in garden bird and mammal populations. During that time the population of Magpies and Grey Squirrels increased from seeing an odd one now and again to seeing groups of Magpies in the garden and having infestations of Grey Squirrels in the roof, whilst numbers of small birds declined. It should be noted that Grey Squirrels are a non-native species in UK. Also in the later years we had Sparrowhawks visiting the garden for a meal from time to time.
    That being said cats were also regulars in the garden. The net result was a reduction in the number of smaller birds in the garden despite neighbours feeding them all year round which is something of a British obsession now. Going on nothing but personal observation I think that the Magpie and Grey Squirrel population increase had more to do with the change in small bird populations that a fairly constant population of well fed cats.
    Also a fairly constant number of birds, mainly Doves and Blackbirds, killed themselves by flying into windows.

    • The biggest detriment to the lives of birds where I live are adolescents with pellet guns and older folks who love to spray toxic chemicals all over their gardens. Oh, and hunters of larger game who only wound with lead bullets, then don’t bother to track the game and finish it off. Experienced with raptor rescue here, a large percentage which come in with lead poisoning from eating bullets with their meals.
      Guess Lynx, bobcats, and ocelots aren’t considered “cats” either . Felines are a part of the North American ecosystem, period.

      • Kids with pellet guns? What, an army of kids shooting all day? – Sounds like exaggeration. Bluntly, I don’t believe you.
        Older folks spraying toxic chemicals on their gardens? – Just what birds are killed? Eating leaves?
        – Another exaggeration.
        I will agree that people spraying large acreages of grass to kill all the insects do cause detriment to bird populations. All of the insect eaters e.g. bluebirds, must move or starve.
        That is a major reason why grackles, starlings and English sparrows are the primary bird populations in urban and suburban areas. Luckily, farmland and rural areas still have large populations of the insect eaters.
        Hunters of larger game who wound with lead bullets? Why the emphasis on lead? Sounds like the start of another bogus claim.
        It is not only unsportsman like and embarrassing to the hunters, it is illegal. Hunters caught not following up on injured animals are subject to fines, imprisonment and loss of hunting privileges.
        Stories about how common injured animals are, are just stories, spread by the misinformed, usually anti-hunting misinformed.
        You claim experience with raptor rescue? And you claim that a large percentage come in suffering from lead poisoning and that they ingested that lead?
        Where is your proof? Blatant Lie!! That is an old claim used by the anti-hunters to get anti-lead laws passed in California, on zero USA evidence; the evidence they submitted were fuzzy xrays allegedly taken in the UK.
        Lynx, bobcats, ocelots, jaguar, mountain lions are all wild creatures and have natural constraints on their populations.
        Housecats breed frequently and have large litters. Those lovely ignorant urbanites who don’t want their kitty anymore, but can’t take responsibility instead take the cat for a ride and dump them in the country.
        Without a cat lady around to feed them a significant portion of those abandoned cats turn feral.
        An area that could support a few families of naturally wild cats, instead find literally dozens to hundreds of feral housecats in small areas.
        Ground nesting birds have suffered disastrous population declines from feral kitties. Rabbits, ground squirrels, chipmunks, moles, voles and even muskrats are in decline. Birds that feed on the ground are having difficulty.
        Instead of claiming piety from having visited ‘raptor rescue’, go and actually volunteer for the various conservation groups trying to aid the embattled small animals!

        “… License sales and Federal excise taxes on equipment, hunters and anglers pay for most fish and wildlife conservation programs!
        contributions, in the form excise taxes paid on sporting firearms, ammunition and archery equipment, benefit every state and have generated approximately $5.6 billion for wildlife conservation since 1939. The contribution for 2009 is a record — nearly $336 million, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which recently announced the Wildlife Restoration apportionment.
        Look up and volunteer to help with the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)!
        Virtually any restored, rescued and/or protected animal, bird or fish in North America has been and is funded by voluntary license fees and Federal excise taxes paid by hunters and fisher people!

        All of that money paid to WWF, Audubon, Sierra Club, greenpiece and so on; most of the cash does not go towards nature, wildlife, animals, birds or fish. Instead it goes towards administration and fund raising.

      • “An area that could support a few families of naturally wild cats, instead find literally dozens to hundreds of feral housecats in small areas.
        “Ground nesting birds have suffered disastrous population declines from feral kitties. Rabbits, ground squirrels, chipmunks, moles, voles and even muskrats are in decline. Birds that feed on the ground are having difficulty.”

        Talk about exaggeration…where are you getting this nonsense? Where I live, cats don’t live long out in the “country.” Those that wander outside the shelter of their home turf after dark become coyote food.
        Muskrats are not threatened by cats. Muskrats will eat bird eggs, as will squirrels and rats. Mink, weasels, and raccoons eat birds, rodents, and even kittens if they can get them.
        And then there’s the occasional “killer squirrel”:

      • I have seen very few cats that could catch and eat a squirrel.
        Flying squirrels, only the babies. Grey squirrels…they cat run circles around a cat, run up a brick wall, jump onto wires from 15 feet away…be a tough cat that cat catch one of them.
        I have had cats corner them…and finally walk away after seeing what the squirrel could do.
        One time, I had a big cat corner a squirrel in the top floor of our Philly house one time. Old place, the top floor was small rooms that had been servants quarters back in the day. The squirrel was jumping from one plaster wall to another, landing in the center of the wall like it had glue for feet, and screeching the whole time. The Storminator considered for a while, they got out of there…he was no slouch either. That squirrel was incredible fast and agile.

      • “verdeviewer October 8, 2015 at 10:00 am
        “An area that could support a few families of naturally wild cats, instead find literally dozens to hundreds of feral housecats in small areas.
        “Ground nesting birds have suffered disastrous population declines from feral kitties. Rabbits, ground squirrels, chipmunks, moles, voles and even muskrats are in decline. Birds that feed on the ground are having difficulty.”
        Talk about exaggeration…where are you getting this nonsense? Where I live, cats don’t live long out in the “country.” Those that wander outside the shelter of their home turf after dark become coyote food…”

        It is not an exaggeration verde, nor is it nonsense.
        Look up and volunteer some time or money at “Quail Forever org” or “National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative”.
        Better yet, volunteer a few hours a week working on any dairy farm near you. Dairy farms quickly collect far too many cats from the lost feral kitties following their noses.
        Minks and other critters of the weasel family are ferocious hunters. I did not include them as endangered by cats. Skunks can actually be tame towards people, they’re very opportunistic in catching and eating small animals and insects.
        I spent a fair part of my youth earning money by trapping muskrats. I’ve never seen a muskrat eat anything meat or even try to seriously defend themselves. I have pulled cats from out of muskrat burrows, in the water, where I assume the cats were hunting muskrats.
        Squirrels will try anything. They will even catch birds occasionally, more out off territorial spite I believe, than hunger.
        Rats and even mice are nasty vicious creatures. When putting out rat traps, it is not unusual to find only a scrap of fur under the metal trap arm. This can happen with mice occasionally, but it is unlikely.
        Coyotes will eat slow lazy fat cats lolling around their houses along with small dogs. Coyotes take a great deal more care when dealing with a feral cat and coyotes are very unlikely to kill a feral cat unless they catch the cat far from trees or tunnels.
        Pigs are a problem in many areas. People who’ve raised the larger versions of pigs, aka hogs, will warn you to ‘not fall down!’ in the pig pen. While alpha wild boars can be fearsome, even domestic hogs have been known to consume and kill people (in that order).
        Raccoons run the gamut from vicious to nonchalant. Only the smaller raccoons fear dogs and I assume feral cats. While the largest raccoons will even stand their ground with bears, if briefly. Though it is far more terrifying when the raccoon hisses and snarls at a skunk while trying to steal the skunk’s food.
        No-one is safe when a skunk gets upset.

      • “Cats that live in the wild or indoor pets allowed to roam outdoors kill from 1.4 billion to as many as 3.7 billion birds in the continental U.S. each year, says a new study that escalates a decades-old debate over the feline threat to native animals.”
        I do not believe these numbers for a second.
        Just do the maths…there would have to be a veritable invisible army of ninja Fluffys for this to be even close to true.
        I suppose I will have to present the case for calling BS on these numbers.

      • RE: ATHEOK October 8, 2015 at 3:39 am
        “Kids with pellet guns? What, an army of kids shooting all day? – Sounds like exaggeration. Bluntly, I don’t believe you.”
        Who is doing the exaggerating? Projection, much?
        Yes there are quite a few kids/adolescents with pellet guns here where I live, and I’ve personally stopped them from shooting jays, flickers, robins, thrashers, wrens, orioles, hawks, quail, and other species. By the time LE are called and actually arrive (if they arrive at all), the kids have disappeared. Bird shooters are not high on the list of priorities for our local very understaffed LE agencies.
        I never said there was “an army”, you did. But there are certainly enough to make a sizable dent in the local populations, especially when their ‘target practice’ occurs during mating and nesting season, as it generally does. Since many of these “local” birds are also migratory, I can presume that wherever they would have migrated to if they had survived their breeding season will also record a decline in population.
        “Older folks spraying toxic chemicals on their gardens? – Just what birds are killed? Eating leaves?
        – Another exaggeration.”
        Maybe you need to educate yourself regarding avian physiology.
        Birds are entirely capable of absorbing all sorts of toxins through the exposed skin of their feet and legs which will kill them deader than a doornail, no “leaves” necessary. Of course eating the poisoned invertebrates has the same effect, as does drinking water from contaminated vessels and runoff, and eating vegetation that has been sprayed with toxins .
        I singled out “older folks” because in my area there are many who never discard the older herbicides and pesticides that they keep in their sheds, that they bought years ago and will continue to use until it is used up. Birds land in the garden, lawn, and golf course areas ON THEIR FEET.
        Just one example :We get a lot of spiders here that people spray for-one species that eats them and other bugs (poisoned or not) are Western Bluebirds. Lawns are favorites for Bluebirds and Robins also.
        But now that you have mentioned leaf eating, herbicides also contribute to the problem, particularly here in California during times of scarce water. Lots of birds eat vegetation as a water source, including doves. Bird species can and do in fact die from “eating leaves” that are contaminated, such as our ground-nesting Valley Quail.
        “Hunters of larger game who wound with lead bullets? Why the emphasis on lead? Sounds like the start of another bogus claim.”
        Well, ATheoK, I don’t know what bubble you live in, but people here in Northern California still use lead shot/bullets on game and non-game animals. Lead ammo was banned by the feds some time back for waterfowl hunting, so other than lead fishing sinkers which are mostly in the water, the land-based sources that raptors and other scavengers (corvids) are most likely to come across will be shot animal remains.
        I emphasized “lead” because, ummmm, without lead, one cannot have “lead poisoning”. (Did I really have to explain it to you, are you that dense?). When a necropsy identifies lead pellets/fragments in the bird, and lead in its tissues and blood, and the animal is obviously impaired neurologically then “lead poisoning” is likely a substantial factor in its death. I did and do work in wildlife rescue, and have personally captured downed eagles for transport to the local licensed wildlife rescue. Don’t make assumptions, they make you sound like a moron.
        How about yourself? Where is your real-life experience? Or do you just like to rant?
        “You claim experience with raptor rescue?” already answered
        “And you claim that a large percentage come in suffering from lead poisoning and that they ingested that lead?Where is your proof? ”
        Right here:
        “Blatant Lie!! That is an old claim used by the anti-hunters to get anti-lead laws passed in California, on zero USA evidence; the evidence they submitted were fuzzy xrays allegedly taken in the UK.”
        Where’s your proof Atheok??? Sounds like you just want to spew . My cited paper came out last year.
        Lead ammo was banned several years ago within the range of the California condor, precisely because it was killing them as a residual effect of eating lead ammo -tainted wildlife remains .
        The follow up studies after the ban demonstrate this.
        http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0017656 read the other 58 citations that support it.
        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wsb.469/abstract This one (2014) points to national prevalence of lead poisoning in eagles.
        “It is not only unsportsman like and embarrassing to the hunters, it is illegal. Hunters caught not following up on injured animals are subject to fines, imprisonment and loss of hunting privileges.”
        As a licensed hunter, I agree with this, as far as it goes.
        However, you seem to assume that all “hunters” are also “sportsmen”, a typical logical fallacy. Hate to break it to you Atheok, but that’s simply not true, many of them are just idiots with guns. That’s what you get for making uninformed assumptions about other people.
        Just as with “scientists”, there are many people that hunt who fall short on the “ethics” and “competence” components of the craft. Again, you apparently don’t have any real-life experience of your own in this area, and sound incredibly naive regarding human behavior.While they may indeed be “subject to” all those consequences you mentioned, with only one game warden for my entire very rural area on shift at any given time, getting caught isn’t very likely to happen, especially if the animal is shot on private property .Enforcement and/or apprehension of these people is scarce. Additionally, even ordinarily ethical hunters often don’t follow wounded game here as they should because the odds of coming across a major illegal pot grow/processing area, complete with armed guards (where the hunter becomes the target ) are fairly high. This doesn’t even take into account the number of non-game animals that are shot and left to die (like ground squirrels).
        Don’t take my word for it, here are the latest hunting citation figures available (2011)from my state :
        Please note the majority of citations (3/4) were issued for fishing infractions, not hunting. There were only 2587 hunting infractions noted for the ENTIRE state.This figure includes stuff like trespassing (230), having a loaded weapon (I guess in a car)(199), and hunting without a license (216).
        “Stories about how common injured animals are, are just stories, spread by the misinformed, usually anti-hunting misinformed.”
        Why don’t you try doing your own research on this claim of yours and then report back to us?
        Maybe you would also like to report your claim to UC Davis Veterinary hospital too, so they no longer find it necessary to treat mythological animals. While you are at it, notify my immediate neighbor who runs the deer/fawn rehab for this region.
        But in one sense , you’re right, one is much more likely to find the bird or other animal already dead rather than just injured . Right now, it’s skunk road-kill season where I live.
        “Ground nesting birds have suffered disastrous population declines from feral kitties. Rabbits, ground squirrels, chipmunks, moles, voles and even muskrats are in decline. Birds that feed on the ground are having difficulty.”
        This one is so full of holes it is ridiculous. Cite your sources to support your claim as to North American feral cats being responsible for ANY of the “disastrous population declines from feral kitties” you claim. Please tell us exactly where your population statistics are coming from, if from somewhere other than your own fevered imagination. Alarmist claims don’t sit well here.
        Otherwise your rant is nothing more than hot air and BS.
        And frankly, I don’t think you know at all what you are talking about.

      • Re that squirrel eating the bird…that is weird. But look carefully, and consider the scale…that must be one tiny little bird. It is smaller than the squirrels head. A squirrels head is not very big…shorter than a pinky finger in length. So that bird must be the size of a hummingbird. IOW…a baby.
        i did not know squirrels would eat meat.

      • Bird deaths due to cats is based on estimates!
        Kittens born outside don’t have much chance of surviving due to natural factors such as cold and lack of food. Snakes also eat new-born kittens.
        Stored grain containing animal droppings can’t be sold as it’s unfit for human consumption. Cats protect grain food supplies from animals like rats and mice.

      • “…Yes there are quite a few kids/adolescents with pellet guns here where I live, and I’ve personally stopped them from shooting jays, flickers, robins, thrashers, wrens, orioles, hawks, quail, and other species…”

        You, personally, stopped kids, a few, from shooting all of those species of all those birds…
        Yeah, right…
        Take a picture and call the LE, especially the Wildlife officers. Tell them where, when, who, and what, supply some pictures, names, addresses and anything else. Let THEM decide individually whether to take action.

        “…Birds are entirely capable of absorbing all sorts of toxins through the exposed skin of their feet and legs which will kill them deader than a doornail…”

        Yeah, that is a facet of avian physiology I do not know… First I’ve ever heard of it… Nor did I find any references on a quick internet search (+avian +poison +absorption +feet), (+avian +poison +absorb +feet), (+bird +poison +absorption +feet), (+bird +poison +absorb +feet), and so on…
        All that popped up and was relatively close was ‘Patent US 3147565 A’, ‘Poison dispensing bird perch’. But the poison isn’t absorbed by the feet, but is kicked into the air by the feet where it is either inhaled or preened from feathers.
        Just what is process and mechanism for bird feet poisons absorption?

        “…Bird species can and do in fact die from “eating leaves” that are contaminated…”

        There are chemicals poisonous to birds. They are usually clearly marked along with instructions for proper handling to minimize hazards to birds.
        Misuse isn’t by ‘kids’.

        “…land in the garden, lawn, and golf course areas…”

        Widespread insecticides, herbicides, woody plant kill preparations, fungicides, copper based slug kill preparations are most abused by those people who maintain large grassy lawns.
        While some birds can be killed this way, most professional sprayers do work according to the directions.
        What kills the birds is not poison, it is starve or fly elsewhere. No insects, no bluebirds. No insects and no mosquitos, no martins… Seed eating birds are also discouraged from staying due to the lack of food.
        Again, misuse is not by kids with bb-guns and rarely by responsible people; like folks who strive for planting native vegetation and refraining from spraying pesticides frequently.
        Quail, and perhaps especially the California Valley quail are birds sensitive to many changes in environment, like adverse chemicals.
        Normally quail are seed and insect eaters, however for a significant portion of the year they do eat leaves.
        While quail are very family and covey devoted, they’re not on friendly terms with humans and human activity; i.e. you will not find coveys or nests in most suburban backyards. Perhaps in low usage lots or overgrown zones, but those areas are not frequently sprayed with aviancide type chemicals.
        Grouse are browsers in that a significant part of their year is spent eating brush and tree tips. Again, those areas should be rarely sprayed.
        Neither quail or grouse are easy to shoot on the wing by any gun. The California Blue grouse is the exception here as early settlers found they could just knock them out of the trees with stones. Nor have blue grouse changed much since then.

        “…Well, ATheoK, I don’t know what bubble you live in, but people here in Northern California still use lead shot/bullets on game and non-game animals. Lead ammo was banned by the feds some time back for waterfowl hunting, so other than lead fishing sinkers which are mostly in the water, the land-based sources that raptors and other scavengers (corvids) are most likely to come across will be shot animal remains.
        I emphasized “lead” because, ummmm, without lead, one cannot have “lead poisoning”…”

        I live in that ‘bubble’ called the real world.
        Shot animal remains… Lead shot animal remains.
        What makes lead so poisonous are the soluble lead compounds man uses in so many preparations, e.g. paint where lead compounds form both the background color (grayish white) and the tint color (red, yellow). Those compounds are what is poisonous.
        Pure lead is relatively safe. Swallowed lead is relatively safe as it usually passes through the digestive tract before stomach acids can form chlorides.
        “Are you really that dense, that I have to explain it to you?” Just a quote, I picked up somewhere.
        Early in the California ban lead craze, the alleged lead poisoned condors had ingested a number lead fragments as stones for grinding in their crops.
        Actual source for the lead was never identified or seriously searched for.
        One person did point out that condors might be attracted to the rather bright tire weights left along many roads, particularly after potholes that shale the weights off.
        Relatively hard lead is preferred for tire weights; hardness is usually increased by tin, but is also increased from zinc and silicon. Zinc is a major bird toxin!
        Most shot animals are shot with one bullet. Large animal bullets are prized and rated for not breaking up. Often lost bullet weight is the copper jacket.
        Small animals may be shot with pellets by a shotgun and some of the small vermin, e.g. coyote, are shot with a varmint bullet. A few of the varmint bullets do fragmentize so that the bullet does not exit the animal. Especially those varmint bullets used for crows.
        Shotgun pellet kills, e.g. grouse, quail, dove, rabbit, squirrel are usually hunted for till found. Sometimes, even with dogs, those animals escape.
        A small number even with millions of hunters in the field. yet there is the possibility.
        A hidden dead animal is a hidden dead animal and not likely spotted by raptors or scavengers. A fox or coyote is far more likely to find and finish the critter.
        A bullet shot large animal may be spotted by scavengers, but the big critters will claim the majority of the carcass sooner or later. Usually well before flying scavengers can eat very much.
        The bigger the animal. the less the chance a raptor or corvids eats the lone bullet.
        Oddly, no-one, even in California, is running around testing bears, mountain lions or coyotes for lead…
        End response 1

      • Try having a small vegetable garden in a rat infested city. You end up with contaminated food if the rats have even left any food.
        Cats protect food sources!

      • “…When a necropsy identifies lead pellets/fragments in the bird, and lead in its tissues and blood, and the animal is obviously impaired neurologically then “lead poisoning” is likely a substantial factor in its death. I did and do work in wildlife rescue, and have personally captured downed eagles for transport to the local licensed wildlife rescue. Don’t make assumptions, they make you sound like a moron…”

        Odd that necropsy. Usually they test the flesh and declare lead poisoning is the amount is sufficient and that is not a common activity. Otherwise, the overall appearance is often the reason for diagnosis, unless the carcass is sent to a special place for testing.
        Speaking of ‘special place for testing’, your link is to a paywalled research study which I managed to find a free copy, ‘Impact of the California Lead Ammunition Ban on Reducing Lead Exposure in Golden Eagles and Turkey Vultures’
        Don’t you love that title?

        “…Additionally, we compared the proportion of lead-poisoned bald eagles submitted before and after the autumn 1991 ban on lead shot for waterfowl hunting…”

        Actually that is the main focus of the research.
        Another one of those “confirmation bias” research studies. Form an opinion, conduct study to prove opinion.

        “…We summarized the causes of death of bald eagle carcasses submitted between 1982 and early 2013 and golden eagle carcasses submitted between 1975 and early 2013 to the NWHC in Madison, Wisconsin. In general, necropsy procedures and ancillary laboratory testing (typically guided by any field information available and initial gross findings) followed Franson et al. (1996). Final diagnoses were assigned following a review of the case history, necropsy observations, and laboratory results and were entered into the Laboratory Information Management System database housed at NWHC …”

        ‘National Wildlife Health Center’, NWHC.
        The whole research study was to ‘summarize’ existing findings

        “…We conducted generalized logit multinomial regressions to compare the proportion of eagle carcasses submitted to NWHC diagnosed as electrocuted, emaciated, diseased, shot or trapped, poisoned, traumatized, other, and undetermined by region…”

        What is not mentioned nor effectively controlled for is the fact that these ‘carcasses’ are not a ‘sample’ of any kind. Instead they are specifically targeted to be sent to the NWHC for analysis; meaning they died and someone wants to know why.
        Even with this unbalanced study grouping, only 25.6% Bald Eagles were lead poisoned, and 10.2% were shot.
        Totals are 762 lead poisoning, 303 were shot. All of the NWHC bald eagles tested in this study were collected between 1982 and 2013.
        I make that as 24.6 bald eagles poisoned per year and 9.8 eagles shot per year.
        That is not a study, it is a farce. No controls! No valid sample populations!
        The last full state bald eagle reporting year was 1999.
        Total breeding pairs reported in 1999 for the continental United States was 4,822.
        States were no longer required to submit bald eagle breeding pair surveys after 1999, still some states continued to perform their surveys.
        e.g. California listed 151 breeding pairs in 1999 and 200 breeding pairs in 2005.
        Even if all of those yearly lead poisoned and shot eagles were from California in 2005 they would constitute only 12.3% poisoned and 4.9% shot. Yet they were not, they were sent from most of the states.
        End point is, lead poisoning and shot eagles, raptors, buzzards, vultures and condors are small percentages of the total population. It is mostly fuzzy thinking to try and drive the numbers up.

        Predatory and scavenging birds may be exposed to high levels of lead when they ingest shot or bullet fragments embedded in the tissues of animals injured or killed with lead ammunition. Lead poisoning was a contributing factor in the decline of the endangered California condor population in the 1980s, and remains one of the primary factors threatening species recovery. In response to this threat…”

        Another confirmation bias study, and you’re proud of this one…
        Where are the controls? Why such a limited sample?
        Why are there assumptions going into the study?
        Again the lead ammunition folly assumption. Lead is not a rapid poison source. Why aren’t the lead sources specifically sought and identified?
        Why wasn’t a full qualitative and quantitative blood analysis study done to identify all possible poisons?
        Did any one consider that preening may be the introductory source of poisons contained in dust?
        How does anyone know whether tetraethyl lead might’ve been a contributory source?
        Instead, there is a major anticipated factor that solid lead ammunitions components are the sole lead source; both going into and coming out of the study.
        That is pure confirmation bias.
        Whatever my qualifications, I am not uninformed and I try not to be so blatantly biased.
        Neighborhood kids shooting a lot of birds,
        old people with pre-ban chemicals,
        lead ammunition,
        all wounded raptors and corvids are poisoned or shot,
        the woods is full bad hunters and multiply shot game,
        UC Veterinary Hospital saving many gunshot game animals,
        Only .6% or the people hunting are doing something illegal (2587violations/282266hunting licenses issued)=.916%,
        game wardens are spread too far to bother with illegal hunting in your neighborhood.
        Yeah, right…

      • “Barbara October 9, 2015 at 1:47 pm
        Try having a small vegetable garden in a rat infested city. You end up with contaminated food if the rats have even left any food.
        Cats protect food sources!”

        Any garden in an urban area should have the soil tested in several places. Lead paint dust can be a major contaminant and is a source for lead poisoning through your vegetables.
        Cats also eat plants and happily use turned over garden soil for their litter box.
        Yes, many of the bird deaths due to cats are estimated. Like the bird window deaths are estimated (from researchers counting bird deaths from flying into tall office buildings over a period of time).
        While the frequency of bird death for one building is estimated, that is not the frequency for every building as window type, angle and cleanliness are major factors. Clean windows kill more birds.
        Combined with a gross estimate for how many windows there are makes for a rather inflated bird death count.
        Still, birds do fly into windows hard enough to kill themselves.
        Under normal conditions cats do kill birds. While your normal house cat is unlikely to become proficient at catching and killing birds, feral cats do become proficient. Proficiency is a percentage of how many attempts versus successes and even in quite efficient feline predators, the success rate is less than fifty to sixty percent for a feral cat at the peak of their prowess.
        Like fox dens, feral cats establish places where they can seek shelter. Also like fox dens, the areas immediately outside of the shelter exhibit how successful that cat is.
        Cat dens along with disturbed and ravaged bird nests provide wildlife management their information regarding feral cat damage to wild life populations.
        Unlike European hares, American cottontails and other rabbits usually nest in a small depression in the ground lined with rabbit hair and grass. Feral cats are able to, and frequently do, kill adult cottontails; but nest destruction is the problem.
        Feral cats are a problem. They are not the sole problem, but they are a problem.
        If you live in a city, keep your cat safe, keep your cat inside or contained.

      • Funny how folks skeptical of climate studies that “estimate” and “suggest” are quite willing to accept the same sorts of studies that foster hatred of cats. The “new study” isn’t the first to put absurd numbers on cat-killed birds that has been picked up by practically every climate-action-promoting media outlet and will subsequently be used by wind turbine promoters to justify killing bats and raptors for the sake of the planet. And yet, “skeptics” parrot the supposed findings without even reading the actual study.
        This is another crap study with an unstated objective. The numbers come from a computer model. The data comes from just eight sources: “three based on nationwide pet-owner surveys and five based on research in individual study areas.”
        NPR has a good commentary on the flaws:
        Of course, reason will not dissuade those still imbued with the witch-hunt indoctrination that helped spread the black plague from self-justifying their torturous inclinations toward cats. There are sickos (there was one in this area) who put out bait for neighborhood cats and kill them when they come onto their property. They justify their “hobby” with studies such as these. Kids crying for their lost pet? Too bad! I’m doing it for the birds.
        A cat study that comes out with a press release to major media who then inform us cats are “evil,” “deadly,” “murderous,” and “stone-cold serial killers” should prompt suspicion, not blind acceptance and ridiculous graphs.

      • Like Menicholas, I researched a 2013 anti-cat study (also by Smithsonian) in response to its use to excuse bird and bat killing by wind turbines. Does the Smithsonian mag headline look familiar?
        Feral Cats Kill Billions of Small Critters Each Year
        That study was done by green-energy-supporting bird conservationists. Like the recent “new study,” the numbers come from a computer model that extrapolates numbers reported in other studies. The study was roundly criticized by other scientists as being sheer fabrication.
        And yet, here we go again…

        • The cat predation studies are based on solid data collection, with estimates based on the solid numbers. Here are excerpts from just a few of the dozens of studies referenced in the Nature article. These were objective data collection projects–most of them counting just the bodies returned to the cats’ owners, many for the whole cat population of entire villages.
          These are NOT just computer projections, estimates, or anything else. The estimates for all of North America are based on the actual data. Estimates of cat populations are based on owner surveys. Estimates of feral cat populations are based on counts. This is probably the least solid number.
          Predation by domestic cats in an English village
          Journal of Zoology
          Volume 212, Issue 3, pages 439–455, July 1987
          “We studied predation by approximately 70 domestic cats (Felis catus L.) in the Bedfordshire village of Felmersham over a one-year period. All the prey items brought home by virtually all the cats in the village were recorded and, where possible, identified. A total of 1090 prey items (535 mammals, 297 birds and 258 unidentified animals) were taken, an average of about 14 per cat per year. Twenty two species of birds and 15 species of mammals were identified. The most important items were woodmice (17%), house sparrows (16%) and bank voles (14%).”
          “Information on the composition of vertebrate prey caught by house cats in Canberra was collected by recording prey deposited at cat owners’ residences over 12 months. A total of 1961 prey representing 67 species were collected or reported. In all, 64% of prey were introduced mammals, especially mice and rats, with birds comprising 27% (14% native, 10% introduced, 3% unidentified), reptiles 7%, amphibians 1% and native mammals 1%.”
          “We reviewed feral cat impacts on native island vertebrates. Impacts of feral cats on vertebrates have been reported from at least 120 different islands on at least 175 vertebrates (25 reptiles, 123 birds, and 27 mammals), many of which are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. A meta-analysis suggests that cat impacts were greatest on endemic species, particularly mammals and greater when non-native prey species were also introduced. Feral cats on islands are responsible for at least 14% global bird, mammal, and reptile extinctions and are the principal threat to almost 8% of critically endangered birds, mammals, and reptiles.”
          Here is the summation of data analysis techniques and sources:

      • Kentklizbe, your referring to these as “solid numbers” is laughable.
        As stated here by others, you are doing just what all of these studies has done…picked up on something reported elsewhere, and exaggerated to significance, and gullibly just accepted as gospel these made up numbers.
        None of the stuff you cited had anything to do with counts of animals per unit of geographical area.
        And polls of pet owners are so flawed it is silly.
        Counting pets owned by person, rather than households, is one source of error which likely skews even the data they do collect by a factor equal to the number of people per household: A house with four people and one cat is four cat owners…but only one actual animal!
        This MSU study commits several of the most common logical fallacies…starting out with projections borrowed uncritically and of undisclosed methodology, and then using those numbers to multiply out other numbers…then stating, from then on, that this is THE NUMBER of such animals.
        It is truly beyond the pale of unscientific nonsense and BS statistical garbage.
        The best one can say is no one knows.
        But they made 100% sure they did not underestimate any counts…that is for sure.
        The numbers may be of by a factor of ten or more.
        Which leaves a lot of cats…and there are a lot, just not the outlandish figures they cite.
        If there are ten million feral cats in Florida alone, and another ten million owned, that would mean that a state with 7% of the US population of people has nearly 20% of the estimates for cats in the whole US!

        • Again, cat people, will be waiting for your “solid numbers.”
          Clearly it’s impossible to satisfy your need to defend your parasitic hosts.
          If a year long count of actual birds killed by every single cat in a village is not a “solid number,” what would your parasite accept as one?

      • Thanks for the link, Kent, but I don’t believe you can derive the study’s conclusions from those locations. There are locations where cats have a significant impact and far more where their impact is dwarfed by that of other creatures. Overall, cats are not the bad influence they’re being portrayed as.
        Studies such as the Smithsonian’s seem to be part of a larger effort to turn various groups against each other. Some old science fiction buffs refer to this as the “Costello effect.” Listen to the old NBC “X Minus One” radio rendition of Theodore Sturgeon’s short story “Mr. Costello, Hero” and you’ll understand why.

      • Regarding the “common knowledge” about cat predation on Pacific islands, endlessly repeated…
        Cats were brought onto the islands to control rats that had been inadvertently introduced. Lately, cats get substantial blame for extirpated bird populations, but the blame is misplaced.
        When cats were eradicated from New Zealand’s Little Barrier Island in the 1980s, the breeding success of the endangered Cook’s petral plummeted from 32% down to 9% per burrow. Rats are much more efficient egg eaters than cats, and cats had been keeping rat numbers down.
        When rats were finally eradicated in 2005, petral breeding success jumped to 59%. So, yes, cats were complicit in reducing the petral population. But if cats not been introduced in the 1800s, rats would almost certainly have extirpated the Cook’s petral on Little Barrier Island long ago.

    • I think the last time I saw a native, wild, red squirrel in the was in about 1972. Sad to see them decimated by an imported grey.

      • No, I don’t think so as cats evolved in a dry environment (Apparently). I don’t class Britain as dry, although 1976 was hot alright!

      • Cats are indigenous to the Middle East and northern Africa.
        And this nonsense about armies of bird eating cats is ridiculous…exaggerated perhaps 100x in the numbers published.
        I have debunked it more than once…will look for a reference, because I do not feel like writing that book again.

      • Reply to menicholas ==> There is solid science behind the claims of massive damage to particular bird populations by free-roaming cats. Note the wording here: free-roaming. It doesn’t matter if the cats are domestic, being fed at home, or feral, left to fend for themselves in the wild. The only need be free to roam where they will. The majority of domestic cats have a strong hunting instinct and will track and kill nearly anything of the right size, hungry or not. (As with all things, the strength of the hunting instinct varies individual to individual.)
        See the U of Georgia’s “kitty-cam project” for some of the latest results.

      • I have seen those camera studies Kip…fascinating snd surprising.
        I do not doubt that cats kill small animals, it is the numbers of cats and the numbers of birds killed per year that I strongly believe are overestimated, at least in the estimated I have seen.
        I believe these estimates are actually projections based on out of whack extropolations of scanty data, and unscientific polls of cat owners.
        I am at work now, but will present my reasoning and math and arguments later if you wish.

      • In fact, I have had cats and do have them still, and have always been a keen observer of wildlife and my pets and those of others…I know they kill plenty of animals given the chance.
        I had a plant nurserynin Pasco County some years back, and a whole bunch of cats adopted our place and hung out with our pets. Farm cats can kill and eat larger game than I would have believed.Whole rabbits, intestines, bones and all…and do so right next to a house where I never even saw the rabbits until killed.

      • Kip says:
        There is solid science behind the claims of massive damage to particular bird populations by free-roaming cats.
        I think Menicholas is right, the numbers are way overestimated. Also, a cat catching a bird improves the bird population, cf Darwin. Cats don’t get the fastest, healthiest and most alert birds. And we know the world needs more lerts…
        Go cats!

      • Reply on the “Cats Kill Birds” issue ==> The real issue is not that cats hunt adult birds — oh, they do, but their success rate is low and I think they do it just for fun. The REAL problem is that cats kill nestlings of ground- and low- nesting species — by the thousands and millions. Those peeping little morsels of scrumptiousness — advertising their locations begging Mommy-bird for food.
        Anyway, it is the killing of nestlings that effects populations broadly, not the taking of adults.
        Cats have little effect on tree-top and cavity nesters.

      • The “Scottish” wildcat is indeed indigenous to Britain, only it was wiped out , apparently by the 1600’s, in most of the rest of its range there. Further, it is considered a subspecies of the European wildcat.
        If you recall from the geological history of the area, Britain was once connected to the European mainland , before the channel was flooded. (Yep, GW did it!)
        Virtually all “domestic/feral” cats today are descendants of these (originally) wild species, including the Asian and African populations. They are all genetically very close, which is why they interbreed freely and produce fertile offspring today.
        It makes sense that in the same vein as human genetics, one could scientifically point to a long ago “asian” ancestor from the fertile crescent for all of today’s wild and domestic Felis silvestris species cats. However, since the cats continue to interbreed , there are multiple “domestication” events that have occurred, not just one. Of course this causes problems for those who think that wild populations should somehow remain “purebred” and unchanging. http://www.scottishwildcats.co.uk/history.html

      • 1.3 to 4.0 Billion birds killed every year.
        “Free-ranging domestic cats have been introduced globally and have contributed to multiple wildlife extinctions on islands. The magnitude of mortality they cause in mainland areas remains speculative, with large-scale estimates based on non-systematic analyses and little consideration of scientific data. Here we conduct a systematic review and quantitatively estimate mortality caused by cats in the United States. We estimate that free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.3–4.0 billion birds and 6.3–22.3 billion mammals annually. Un-owned cats, as opposed to owned pets, cause the majority of this mortality. Our findings suggest that free-ranging cats cause substantially greater wildlife mortality than previously thought and are likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for US birds and mammals.”

      • Reply to Kent ==> A copy of the full Loss, Will, and Marra paper from Nature Communications is available here including supplemental information here.
        Readers should understand that this huge huge number is not some “single study finding”.
        Cats belong confined to the owners property. Period.

      • Reply to Kip:
        “In fact, the situation is no laughing matter. Cats are hunters and other creatures do fall prey to them in significant numbers.”
        Most of the animals killed are rats and mice. No one doubts or disputes this, and yet it is the least mentioned part of the story. Why do you suppose that nearly ever state and local government excludes cats from the leash laws?
        Because rats and mice are vile vermin that no one wants in or around their home, their stores of food, or anywhere else.
        Without cats…we would be overrun by these fast multiplying scourges.
        Tremble under their wrath!

    • As a child of the 1940s, I never ever recall seeing a Canada Goose anywhere in the UK, amongst the birds in Britain that I was taught to observe. Now, for no perceivable reason, Canada Geese have arrived in their thousands across the British countryside and have become a severe pest on the rivers of Britain. Masses of them take over the lawns of riverside houses, the owners of which have to spoil their riverside banks by putting in netting fences to disuade these hoards of geese from taking over their gardens and eating most of what is growing and devastating the ground with their obnoxious droppings, with the result that culling is becoming more acceptble in order to keep their numbers down. Just another case where an introduction, or a re introduction of a species can have the opposite effect to what might have been intended in the first place.

      • George, the same thing happened here in the US. I remember once when I was really small a flight of “wild geese” flew over our house. It was genuinely a unique experience and I will never forget how excited my mother was as they were rare where I lived along the Ohio river. Now, holy cow, they are everywhere. They are as ubiquitous as black birds. No shortage, that’s for sure. If someone can explain the change, I would like to know what happened.

      • Steve:
        Hunting laws, conservation funds from license fees and Federal excise taxes and a serious committed effort by group like ‘Ducks Unlimited’.
        Ducks, geese and waterfowl were greatly decimated by market gunners. The same characters who exterminated passenger pigeons and several other tasty or beautiful bird species.
        Killing everything for sale at the nearest market is usually a practice called rape or simply slaughter. Unlike a farmer who seeks long term sustenance by maintaining healthy populations, market gunners were out to kill critters before someone else could.
        Unfortunately, market gunning was a practice fostered and nurtured by the US military. When one animal was exterminated, sights were set on another.
        Hunters sought and petitioned for government action on natural resource protection and management. By popular agreement this resulted in the ‘Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 (16 U.S.C. 669-669k; P-R)’.
        This act was so successful in retrieving many animal species from the brink of extermination that fishermen sought similar protection and management for freshwater fish and aquatic life. Much later, similar management actions for saltwater fish were implemented, but not for the greater good, but for commercial usage.
        Still, government action and funds collection is near useless without physical action on the ground. While many small or state volunteer groups accomplished great good early on, e.g. deer, elk, bear, turkey, etc., it required a larger effort to seriously help migratory waterfowl.
        One of the first and largest groups established was ‘Ducks Unlimited’. DU identified where and how waterfowl were at their most vulnerable and then sought solutions.
        Large expanses of Midwest and Canadian prairie wetlands became protected. Hunting seasons and limits were established and rigorously held to. Volunteers sought to re-establish and maintain wild foods that nourish healthy waterfowl.
        Seventy eight years later and waterfowl restoration are a success story. Hunting seasons are slightly longer and some waterfowl limits are greater, but the main effort is towards keeping healthy waterfowl populations.
        Which is why, when the alarmists are crying that polar bears are starving; bear researchers are noting that geese nests, goslings and adult geese are keeping polar bears fat, on land.
        Yes, several waterfowl populations are expanding their territory; both greater and lessor Canadian geese are prime examples that even migratory birds change their migratory patterns with many geese deciding ‘why migrate’? The greater and lessor snow goose is not only feeding polar bears but expanding their territory too.

    • I hear theres a shortage of sparrows?
      would you like a few hundred posted over?
      Aus is not short of them;-/

      • Not so sure that you want English Sparrows that has overrun the US and is legally a pest. They are more aggressive than native species and prefer garbage to looking for insects or wild seed.

      • Reply to dbstealy ==> “Reasons given for introduction were to establish wildlife familiar to European immigrants, or to control insect infestations.” http://www.sialis.org/hosphistory.htm
        The “horse manure” bit of English sparrow history, according to sialis.org is this “After being introduced, HOSP thrived in areas occupied by humans, eating grain that was left on the ground, undigested grain in horse manure, and trash. HOSP populations may have peaked in the early 1900s. When automobiles and farm machinery replaced horses and farm animals, the HOSPs primary source of food was reduced.”
        So they were not introduced to eat horse manure….they were introduced because many relocated Europeans wanted to see their sparky little familiar sparrow friends here in the US. Alas, they were so good at eating insects, but in the days of the horse and buggy, they found plenty of food as undigested seeds in the massive amounts of dried horse manure that littered streets and roadsides. Nowadays we still have sparrows, but seeds and grains are not as commonly found laying about.

  12. The title of this post (“About those claims of declining bird populations due to ‘climate change’) is in contradiction to what the author intended: “This essay is not about Global Warming, Global Cooling, Carbon oxides, or Climate (changing or not). I am not generally qualified to respond to questions about those subjects and won’t do so.”
    I don’t think Kip Hansen chose the title .

    • I do not see a contradiction.
      Some people these days blame everything, even weather, on climate change.
      As if there was never weather before recently, and things never changed!

    • Reply to Chris ==> Actually, I did choose the title, but it refers to the earlier article by that title (which was correctly described by that title).
      So this article, which talks about another reason for declines of certain birds, a change in the change of environments, is an Update on that article.
      The original article, which I encourage you to read, found that it was changing environments due to other factors, not climate change, that caused changes in bird populations. (With the exception of declines in the American Southwest, affect by a multi-year persistent drought, which is climatic in nature.)
      When I write essay hewre at WUWT that are not directly related to the central theme here, I like to warm readers so they can skip my essay if that is there only/primary interest.

  13. Please can some one show me how to get this story out, http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-34468821. It truly has to do with restrictions by the “warmists” on the use of fossil fuels that could help these people, a few pieces of coal ( as Britain elderly could use) could help these people and save forests at the same time. Why isn’t “Green Peace” all over this?

    • Reply to asybot ==> Alas, need for cooking fuel is the proximate cause of deforestation all around the world in developing countries. I served in the Dominican Republic which still has cooking wood sellers and charcoal burners who denude the hillsides despite government subsides of propane cooking gas.
      Near every home, including those of the middle class, have a wood or charcoal fired cooking pit outside.
      Haiti, as almost everyone knows, has been nearly entirely denuded for construction and cooking wood.

  14. Just today, I drove through the area in my state that was hit by several major fires recently and has been declared a national disaster area. 20-odd years ago this area was managed by the CDF , who regularly did controlled burns and who also cleared out a majority of dead/dying trees, leaving only a few.
    This worked well in providing necessary habitat for the wildlife, while also performing the job that nature will do anyway (fires) , but in a much safer way. Fires are necessary for some of the native flora to germinate, but only idiots will wait for lightning or pot growers to ignite those fires.
    Of course the mantra has been the fires were caused by “the drought” and “global warming” but that’s nonsense.
    Clearcutting is a different “animal”, at least here on the west coast. It just ruins pretty much everything that surrounds it.

    • Most clearcuts are immediately replanted by those who own the land.
      Trees grow back fast…faster now than ever, and by a lot.

      • Straight rows of jack pine or poplar growin’ like a corn field may not look as pleasing as a more diverse forest, but the area of land required for the same volume of production is greatly reduced. I for one do not want to be paying $5/roll of toilet paper.

      • That’s the problem with clearcuts, any young hardwood or other native tree like persimmon that would be replacement growth is also cut, and those kinds of trees are never replanted. I would suppose that if this were allowed world wide, eventually, most of that kind of timber would become quite rare.

  15. Following the theme of the article, I can visualise Conway’s ‘Game of Life’ – with forests increasing and decreasing, moving across the screen/land, with the bird population following it.
    With the odd lightning bolt triggered fire to reset the situation from time to time.

  16. Thank goodness Mr. Hansen. At least you state you have an *opinion* about free roaming domestic/feral cats, and you have spared us from another bogus “97% of scientists say” claim.

    • Bobcats have a hard time staying alive here in the bluffland forests at the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, due to packs of coyotes, and falcon and owl predation ( I find skulls along my creek). Stray house cats and mini-dogs are much easier targets. Very common to see posters on the back road utility poles stating missing pets. There are also a few sightings of cougars.
      here is a bobcat skull recently found.

      • Reply to Dawtgtomis ==> Very cool — thanks for the pic. My sons have quite a collection of skulls — of course, they clean them of flesh and bleach them before public exhibition.

      • I gave the last few I’ve found to a county conservation agent who processes them for his collection.

  17. This study ignores the millions of birds and bats that are shredded each year by those ugly wind turbines. The Audibon Society some years back listed many endangered species, including Golden Eagles that had been shredded by these clunking dinosaurs. The strobing effect of low angle lilght and the low frequency thrumming also has an effect on birds and other wildlife. Owners of these ridiculous machines refuse entry to interest groups to conduct bird counts, which makes us believe the number of birds killed must be far, far higher than estimated. So in a perverse way they are right – “climate change” is putting many endangered species at risk – through the ignorant application of supposed “sustainable energy”.

    • This is a follow up on a previous article by Kip.
      It does not ignore the turbine chompers, but is focused on the bogus alarmist claims that wildlife is unable to ‘adapt’ quickly enough; e.g. polar bears are endangered because of climate change.
      Don’t forget that the POTUS has signed one of his dictator letters giving at least one large group of turbine operators an open license to chop and chomp endangered birds and raptors.

  18. …Author’s Comment Policy: This essay is not about Global Warming, Global Cooling, Carbon oxides, or Climate (changing or not). I am not generally qualified to respond to questions about those subjects and won’t do so….
    Naturalists, no less than other species of animal, need to adapt and find niches to live in.
    The current grant environment is rich in CO2/Climate niches, while many other traditional academic lifestyles are disappearing at an alarming rate. Unless you adapt to including essential current subjects such as CO2 and recycling in your work you will become extinct….

  19. In western MD, sections of privately-owned forests are (and have been for a long time) clear-cut. What’s amazing is that the oaks, hickories, tuliptrees, basswoods, red maples, blackgums, etc, all re-sprout from the cut trunks and are 20-30′ tall after a mere 10 yrs.

    • Not so amazing…this is what is called coppicing.
      It produces large amounts of straight and uniform lumber, useful for furniture and many other things…like the hardwood rails of a bannister, etc. And many other things, as the wood reaches various sizes.

  20. About those cats…
    I had a wonderful argument with a cat hater where I pointed out that for small bird species, approximately 90% of them have to die in any given year in order to keep populations within the food limits. Such species are opportunistic. Give them the food and populations explode, followed by die-backs as resource limits are reached. Cats merely hoover up the corpses. Or prey on the ones dying/who would have died/ of starvation anyway.

    • Really?
      Exactly which birds or species have one year life cycles?
      Even morning doves, which are considered the fast food of the skies have a two year life expectancy.

      • I have never had or seen a bird fly into a window. Seriously?
        But it is rather rare for the average cat to catch a bird.
        Birds fly, and are not active at night, when cats have their big advantage.
        Songbirds can have large clutches of eggs several times a year, unlike larger birds of prey and migratory birds, which breeed slowly in hatchings of ones and twos and do so once a year.

      • ATheoK,
        They’re called “mourning” doves, because of their mournful cry.
        And hey YouNicholas: Recently a bird flew into a large window in our house, going full speed. Apparently thought it was an open exit. Killed itself on the spot, probably a broken neck, poor thing. So it does happen.
        Also, cat haters never had a cat. I think that applies to at least 97% of them.

      • Yes indeed, those are mourning doves. You can hear them all the time here in Florida…they are everywhere.
        Except the horde of them that had accumulated, over a few years, near my bird feeders, and all of the dozen or so squirrels, all got eaten last Spring by a huge hawk or owl…I only glimpsed it twice and could not tell which it was…if it was a hawk it was the biggest one I have ever seen. But if it was an owl, it was the only one I never saw perched and waiting, or heard calling.
        But it came and cleaned house over a period of a few weeks and then moved on…left nary a squirrel or dove on my place. A few are coming back now that the weather is changing, and when squirrels find some choice unclaimed territory, you hear all about it as they jockey for the prime nests.

      • Large glass windows which allow a view through the building to the outside are particular candidates for bird impacts, I’ve seen hawk silhouettes stuck to such to scare other birds away. In my yard near the bird feeder I saw a sharp shinned hawk take out a Mourning dove at a distance of about ten feet, very impressive!

      • I believe I identified mourning doves in Dominican Republic last winter. I remember them on my farm many years a go doing their weird ballet moves, single wing stretches down to one leg, etc. Kip, one species I disagree about needing clear cut or other cuts is ruffed grouse. These birds are very populous in the spruce/pine forests of northern Canada from west to east. Working on geological surveys and in mining exploration from northern Saskatchewan to northern Quebec, I’ve had many a tasty meal of them, often encountering them in fairly thick coniferous forests (some birch and alder). I know you mentioned forest fires and, of course, these are frequent enough, but most of the grouse I’ve come across are right in the woods. They take off almost at your feet and even collide with the branches as they blast their way through.
        Their cousins, prairie chickens, of course like open country. These birds are small but round and meaty, but you have to be able to knock them down at a distance. They spook easily and if you aren’t quiet, they take off at 60-70 yards. In my group of friends, I was the best prairie chicken hunter. I told them my secret but they just laughed at me. I walked with wind in my face and I could smell them – they are a stinky bird, especially a group of them, feeding and defecating. It seems I must have had a particularly good sense of smell. This gave me ~20 yard advantage over my weaker-nosed companions.

      • “I have never had or seen a bird fly into a window. Seriously?”
        menicholas. It’s my gut feel that it’s the Low-E glass, especially after a cleaning The old double pane windows didn’t get nearly the strikes that the new windows get. When we’re home during the day I hear them constantly thumping. Most are dazed and fly off leaving a dusty outline, but it’s not uncommon to find a few broken necks. We’ve even had a Marsh hawk take a hit last winter. It survived well enough to fly off after 30 minutes.
        We have two predominately indoor cats. Neither have front claws and seem to prefer catching chipmunks over birds.

      • dbstealey:
        Thank you. I make that mistake frequently because when the doves start their nesting they’re call is that soft whoo whoo who which they love to start whoing at dawn.
        I’ve never claimed to hate cats. I have had several cats, only a few of which I thought were decent pets and fewer of them as intelligent pets.
        e.g. the long haired Himalayan. People always thought he was so cute and pettable… The rotten cat loved to climb on my chest in the middle of the night and purr for attention. Only he drooled abundantly when he purred and I would wake up with a sodden goopy mess on my chest from a large cat trying to soften my chest with his claws.
        That cat had the bad grace to hiss violently at a very nice cat I owned when I accepted him into my house. A female cat who never forgave him nor allowed him to forget. I gave him to a girlfriend when she left, he left.
        One of my brothers who worked on a dairy farm for several years has very little patience for most cats. He generally views them as unwelcome pests. A viewed he gained from fighting cats when trying to hygienically milk cows. Yet he enjoys and takes care of the cats that earned his affection.
        To summarize, I despise many cats. There are quite a few who’ve gained my love and affection though. I especially despise people who abandon their pets.
        One year when I was visiting my brother, one of his cats was trying to ‘be friends’ with me; so I would find the cat curled up on or around me when I’d wake up.
        What was puzzling was that I kept wondering just what was going on with my tea when I’d leave it on a table or somewhere. I’d find myself staring in the cup wondering when I had drank some and how could I forget.
        Then I caught the cat drinking my tea. He didn’t lap it up though, he’d surreptitiously dip his paw into the tea and then lick the tea off of his paw. One of my screen background pictures is that cat sneaking my tea. I also stopped drinking anything if I left it somewhere briefly; I know where else cats put their paws.
        Birds run into my windows several times a week. Deaths are infrequent with only one or two birds every couple of years.
        There are night birds! They actually fly and eat insects at night!.

    • Reply to Leo Smith ==> Read the “kitty-cam” research (there is a lot more on the subject, but the U of Georgia effort is easy to visualize and understand).
      Don’t get me wrong, I LIKE cats — house cats. Domestic cats are terrific pets and like all pets should be confined to the homes or yards of their owners.
      Americans have a weird attitude about cats — we don’t hesitate a moment to require leases and confinement of domestic, pet dogs, regardless of size, but react in horror at the idea of requiring people to keep their domestic, pet cats in their own homes or yards.

      • Keeping a cat permanently and perpetually inside is like having a person in jail, IMO.
        Too cruel for this type of animal.

      • We have a neutered male cat who “owns” the barn. His house is placed on top of the tack room ceiling where only he and some very stupid racoons have been able to access. The racoon family now lives on somebody else’s land and we put his food up at night. The radio playing also help keep the coons out.
        He is the happiest cat I’ve ever had and when my cat hatin’ buddies complain about birds and mice in their barns, I just grin and tell them to stop killing snakes, or get a cat.

      • Forgot to mention his house and his waterer are heated. He’s going on 9 yrs old. Companion to the horses and gets along somehow with the local red fox, who also pals with my horses, but runs off when I get close.

      • Reply to Dawtgtomis ==> I have no real objection to farm and barn cats — they are a necessity to keep down natural rodent populations, and to some extent to keep all those pooping birds out of the hay loft. Barn cats tend to stay in the barns and on the property of their owners.

      • “we don’t hesitate a moment to require leases and confinement of domestic, pet dogs, regardless of size,”
        Dogs and cats have completely different behavioral patterns. Dogs will aggressively go after people on occasion, poop all over and leave it where it falls, and in general create a nuisance.
        When has a cat ever attacked a person? Dog bites man is not even news. But cat bites man would be perhaps more unusual that man bites dog.
        Cats bury their poop, eat roaches and other vermin (some eat…most catch and play with, kill by accident), are only aggressive with each other, and then only when unneutered males meet up with a female in hear nearby, mostly…and in general are avoid any person but their owner.
        Besides, cats are escape artists. Some communities do not allow 20 foot high fences with a two foot deep skirt, and some properties are very expensive to fence thusly. It would take that to keep many cats in a yard, and some would get out anyway.

      • Menicholas:
        Cats only surface bury their scat. Anyone walking will not see the scat till they’ve stepped in it and dragged it along on their sneaks.
        Cats love to use the soft earth and mulch dug by people tending to their flowers and shrubbery. It is not a pleasant discovery to put ones hand down to lean and discover cat poo.
        Male cats spray. Yeah, they may squat, but they may also just mark the side of the house or car too. It is their nature and spaying the males does not eliminate spraying, only moderates it.
        Twice, I’ve built sandboxes for my kids, bought several hundred pounds of clean sand and discovered that neighborhood cats thought it was a cat box. My wife wouldn’t let me wire the boxes for shock effect when damp.
        I’m with Kip. Be responsible and control your cats.

      • “I’m with Kip. Be responsible and control your cats.”
        Otay, if you say so…
        I shall give them a stern talking to post haste.
        And shake my fist at the other 67% of cat owners that feel as I do.

        • “Otay, if you say so…
          I shall give them a stern talking to post haste.
          And shake my fist at the other 67% of cat owners that feel as I do.”
          Odds are good that your toxoplasmic parasite incited you to type that.
          You probably can’t help it.
          There may be hope for help, though.
          Crazy Cat Ladies–sort of like the old stereotype that hatter were mad–well, they were–for a good reason. Just as cat people are crazy–for a good reason.

      • I am going to hold my tongue, except to say you have a really detestably mean spirit.
        Little Kentklizbe In The Tree is doing well, just in case toy are wondering, putrefying slowly to her final mummified state.

    • Reply to menicholas ==> Well, house cats are just that, house cats. Pet cats are personally owned pet animals, belonging to a single person, and should be confined to their owners property, just like their pet sheep or pet goat or pet dog.
      There are lots of opinions about pets in general — but it is only the domestic cat that has the generally accepted option to free-roam entire neighborhoods.
      With your attitude, I suggest skipping cat ownership.

      • Reply to menicholas ==> From my essay Comments Policy “Anyone foolish enough to take the bait to talk about my opinions on free-roaming domestic cats and their effect on bird and small mammal populations should be prepared to suffer the consequences (chuckle…)”

  21. Interesting topic for me as a ‘bird man’ – some of the comments are old hat – conservation has moved on here in the UK (and I thought also in the USA) such that ‘rewilding’ projects are pioneering new approaches where there is LESS management and intervention. Those NY State forests are second-growth and will over time be subject to fires, wind-throw and disease, which will open them up – and then they need the full ‘guild’ of wild grazers to keep spaces open, including beavers . Rather than, or in addition to, seeking to manipulate the forests natural progression, large areas could be left unmanaged for the sake of wildness itself. The species count may go down, but what is that all about anyway – some index chosen by professionals with their own axe to grind (I am a professional ecologist, by the way!).
    You can order ‘Rewilding’ edited Peter Taylor, (Ethos, 2011) from Amazon or get the PDF downloads from the British Association of Nature Conservationists website – in full colour, three files at £2 per file! It will give you the full history of 20 years of British rewilding.
    And yes – the conservation groups here (except BANC) have swallowed the AGW story hook line and grant money. The RSPB (protection of birds society) has churned out computer projections of the ‘threat’ and ‘damage’ to birdlife – yet all the data show, so far, no losses, only gains – with new breeding species coming up from the Mediterranean. The Snow Buntings in Scotland are doing fine. However, northern tundra species – ducks and waders, may be showing declines on their breeding and wintering grounds in the Arctic – the data is not really very good.
    But everywhere, it is clear, land-use changes agricultural intensification and pesticides, new infrastructure, urbanisation and feral cats are all major factors – far more than climate change. Yet – climate change is always placed right up there – if not the major threat. I read the same guff for the Himalayan region recently – from WWF – that AGW was the prime influence – but I have yet to see any real evidence to back it up. My conclusion – these campaign groups keep saying it because it aids the funding streams. There will be a backlash if and when the temperatures start to fall – as most ecologists who have studied the natural cycles now expect.

    • Reply to Peter ==> In New York stats, where I raised my four children, we have the huge “forever wild” Adirondack Park:

      When the Adirondack Park was created in 1892 by the State of New York – this diverse mountain landscape was a wild place. Full of pristine waterways, boreal forests and the towering mountains. It was land ripe for cultivation or conservation, and it was already on the brink of wide-spread deforestation.
      Clear cutting was a growing concern for many in the late 1800s, but it wasn’t until 1894 that the Adirondack Forest Preserve was established and recognized as a constitutionally protected Forever Wild area. Of the Adirondack Park’s 6 million acres, 2.6 million acres are owned by New York State. The remaining 3.4 million acres are privately owned.
      Within the Adirondack Region is the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States. It is also home to 105 towns and villages. There is often a misperception that the Adirondack Park is a national or state park, yet the region’s mix of public and private land allow for conservation and civilization to thrive.

      63% of all land surface in New York State is forested, and this percentage grows every year to the tune of 100,000 acres.
      The Catskill Park (to which I can walk from where I sit at the moment) is an additional 700,000 acres. It is not that unusual for city people to get lost and die in its wildness.

    • Pete:
      Thank you.
      It isn’t quite as barbaric over here as it seems. What America has fostered is wilderness growth for over seventy years.
      Forest fires were contained. Ground fires were minimized or forbidden. It was/is considered natural for clear cut forests to regenerate without interference, that taller faster trees would stifle lesser growth as time wore on.
      Recently, forest managers are recognizing that while the young to mature forest process sounds natural, it is not the best for wildlife and forest diversity.
      As another commenter above pointed out, persimmon trees (diospyros virginiana L., or food of the gods, Virginia, wood from diospyros trees is called ebony), may not be reseeded. It turns out that many of the wildlife food plants are not the quickest to reseed and their original distribution may have been human aided. I have two persimmons in my yard.
      Tree farmers in South America perhaps discovered this earlier. When they tried to plant monoculture forests, e.g. mahogany, rosewoods, etc., it quickly became obvious that monoculture forests did not support diverse wildlife.
      Worse, while monoculture plantings are a kind of ecological desert, they are also ecological feasts for pests that thrive on the single species.
      With experimentation, the tree farmers began to plant mixed forests of specific ratios and they believe they’ve worked out suitable ratios best for wood and wildlife.
      About the same time, American forest managers were wondering why new sequoias and other trees were not sprouting new trees. Well, actually, they sort of knew why, but they hadn’t put cause and effect into the ah ha moment.
      These forest managers knew that the pine cones released by the trees rarely released their seeds. They also knew that the pine cones would release seeds when burning. It wasn’t till the year after a fire in Sequoia with sequoias sprouting in the burned areas that the forest managers understood that forest fires are required to grow new sequoias.
      Therein was/is a new problem. sequoia trees are very resistant to fires, but with nearly a century of dead wood on the ground, fires that might kill sequoia trees is a real possibility. Ditto for many other wooded areas where man prevented fires for so many decades.
      I currently live a few miles from Chancellorsville where a battle was fought during our Civil War called “Battle of the Wilderness”.
      Wilderness is an apt term. After farmers abandoned their farms because the soil in much of Spotsylvania is very poor for crops. Unworked land quickly grew a riotous mix of trees and brush. The immature forest grows so densely that to bust one’s way through is slow and difficult. Mix in a fair amount of briars, wild blackberries and a particularly dense thorny wild rose bushes then progress through the woods is painful too.
      During the battle, wounded soldiers from both sides were trapped in what they called the Wilderness, when a fire (exploding cannonballs) broke out and consumed all.
      When this and many other forests get just a little older, much of the underbrush perishes. What with dead branches and trees falling down into the dry undergrowth these forests become firetraps. Any blaze quickly becomes a full scale seriously hot fire, burning not just the dead wood, but killing standing tree cambium layers and sterilizing the upper soil. Regrowth becomes very difficult.
      Forests everywhere go through similar processes. What does a country full of firetrap forests do? We’re still working some of that one out.
      Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia have many hillsides where the undergrowth is very densely packed head high rhododendron.
      Much like birch bark, rhododendron dry wood is extremely flammable and quite hot with gas pockets flaring out as the wood burns. Rhododendrons also retain their dead branches for quite some time making the rhododendron thickets very bad places to be in a forest fire.

  22. This is time of the year when migrating birds in the N. Hemisphere are on their way south. It is thought that some species use the Earth’s magnetic field for their navigation. If so, you may find some of them straying a way out of their normal route. Reason for this is that in the last two days the Earth has been hit by series of major or severe geomagnetic storms
    Rapid deviation in the declination of degree or two on each side could be critical, so don’t shoot.
    You also may notice the strong (800nT) impact on the Z component amounting to 1.4% with disturbance of about 2h;in comparison, just before Japan’s mega quake (11 March 2011) the excursion peaked at 700nT but disturbance lasted about 10h.

  23. When I were a lad living in the country….(UK 1950s-1960s), in early summer, the dawn chorus of songbirds would wake me at about 5 am. Then, raptors and nest raiders were ruthlessly persecuted.
    Now, all birds are protected. Hawks and Jays and Magpies (etc. etc), once a rare sight, are now common. Songbirds, once common are becoming rare.
    How many Thrushes, Blackbirds and Sparrows does it take to raise a nest of Sparrowhawks?
    Try here: http://www.songbird-survival.org.uk/the_problem.html

  24. we just had dept of sparks n parks set supposedly controlled burns in Vic on a hot windy spell
    2 homes at least gone plus sheds probably stock and a shitload of wildlife
    allowing in bush grazing and some clearing for open areas to help stop fires getting so large n jumping piddling 12ft firebreaks might be smart?
    greentards reckon their ways best.

  25. I live in a well treed urban area. My buddy lives in a forest by a lake. I was always curious about why there seemed to be many more birds in the my back yard than out in the forest. Now I know. Thanks Kip.

  26. So the first uS energy crisis was when densely inhabited areas began to run out of wood to heat houses and buildings. Like ice land and Europe the search for woo denuded the countryside.Whale oil became scarce too. Substituting coal for wood took some of the pressure off wood as a source of heat and forests could recover. 1 chord per year per acre. There was a transition from coal to oil for heating after WWII. Now 87% of homes in Maine are heated with fossil fuel. The forests are recovering. The same percentage of homes in Canada are heated with Hydro. the result is the same no pressure to cut for heat and the forest returns. Now farmers fight back the forest to keep their fields open where before that effort was directly useful and any-twig collected ment warmth. Just thinkin’

  27. Declining birds populations are more the sad outcome of these many silly windmills than the purported climate change.

    • Indeed, that is the real bird population/Climate Change link – man’s misguided attempts at combatting an over-hyped “problem” via putting up numerous bird choppers across the country side.

  28. I think it is reasonable to say that the vast majority of the landscape of the UK is the result of man. If left to its own devices, most areas would be forest or swamp, scrub up to the snowline and that’s it. Man’s farming activities has produced a varied landscape with a huge variety of species. Chalk downland is preserved by grazing and removal of any bushes that escape them for example. Coppicing of woods for various uses creates a turnover of the habitat. Reed beds were preserved by cutting for thatching etc, this stopped them from choking with vegetation and gradually evolving into land. The greens policies would destroy lots of this.

  29. Native Americans used fire to improve hunting habitat long before Europeans arrived. A good example is the Eastern Grouse. Grouse habitat relies on succession. I have not seen a Grouse in the Pinelands in New Jersey in perhaps 30 years. Everything is overgrown. I found an area in north central Pennsylvania that had been clear cut some years ago. I carried a hand gun for the Grouse that lived in the new growth on my way to the mature areas where the turkey would feed. Even at that time, I considered the area rare as it had the best of two habitats.

  30. You post represents multiple decades of the vilification of cattle owners, shepherds, and loggers. These hard working folks put a roof over our heads, meat on the table, and clothes on our backs while continuing nature’s desire to renew and rebuild flora and fauna in a continuing cycle of life. I was born from these hard working folks and will forever announce and defend their contributions to the health of planet Earth.

    • Reply to Pamela ==> Not quite sure what in the essay might have provoked such a response — there is certainly no intentional (or accidental, as far as I can see) vilification of anyone. I would be glad to modify the text if you can point out any objectionable passages.
      The history of New York state, and its environments, is just that, history. The central Hudson Valley and the Catskills, and later, the Adirondacks and the Mohawk Valley, were the bread basket for the thriving nascent megalopolis of New York City. It is simply fact that forests were cleared for pastureland (I am living this summer on just such a spot) and burned for charcoal — that was the need, and this area supplied it. My particular area (and Vermont, for granite) supplied much of the stone from which New York city is built — and before that, it provided the hardwoods.
      Once the Erie Canal was built, and later the railroads, these needs were supplied by areas being pioneered further west, and the marginal lands in this area were allowed to revert to forest.
      This historical process is rather the point and precedes the current effort to reproduce some of that change.

      • I felt slightly vilified Kip.
        But I forgive you.
        My take on it is we will have to agree to disagree…i would not presume to imply that my opinion should dictate your personal choices.

      • Reply to menicholas ==> Vilify means “to say or write very harsh and critical things about (someone or something)”, not just, for instance, insulted.
        I did warn everyone, at the end of my essay: “Anyone foolish enough to take the bait to talk about my opinions on free-roaming domestic cats and their effect on bird and small mammal populations should be prepared to suffer the consequences (chuckle…)”

      • I can take the heat of the kitchen without getting upset about it. Just offering my view, and I accept yours.
        I try to save my insults for the general case, and mostly for warmistas.
        And that mostly because I think they are liars, not just because I disagree with them.
        I do not think disagreeing is reason enough to insult someone.
        As to vilification, you did make it rather plain that you think people who let cats outside and are not locked somehow into a yard, are responsible for billions of bird and mammal deaths, and are unfit to be pet owners…unless you meant only me.

    • Pam, perhaps I should send you some Kenya AA so you can read my post again with a buzz. I have not vilified any person or group. Many think that old growth is best for all wild animals. I believe that you hunt and know better. Suppression of all wild fires have sure worked well out for the west hasn’t it? New growth attracts game animals, no matter whether forest or field. Armchair conservationist are no different than the warmest. Montana has a program that pays farmers to increase bird habitat. The bad news is that the fund is running low on funds and some land will return back to intensive farming resulting in some loss of great bird habitat. When I was much younger I lived in Princeton and went to the high school there. The farm boys from Princeton Junction went to the same school. We had wild pheasants. That area is now all $700-900,000 houses with taxes $18-20,000 per year. I also duck hunted the Mill Pond that Orson Wells described in “War of the Worlds”. What few farms are left have few hedge rows. Your chances of finding a diamond are greater than find a wild pheasant. This is not to say conditions were ever close the the Yakima Valley. I have nothing but admiration and respect for the people you think I vilify. The people in those areas today are the backbone of this country and still possess common sense with the possible exception of most of California, and parts of Oregon and Washington. The engineer in me makes me accept change even if I don’t like it. Change is reality. After all, when things stop changing, it means you are dead. I’m sure you could guess my thoughts on the Climate Change Industry. You do have to hand it to them. Now they have a real Pope.

  31. As a bird “liker” (I wouldn’t say I love them, but I do enjoy having them around), I’ve got to share my bird population story.
    Two years ago, my wife and I moved to a new area of the country. We bought a house with a large, poorly looked after yard. Due to various utility and drainage easements (we live adjacent to a retention pond), a couple thousand square feet of property were outside of the existing fence, and the area outside the fence looked like it hadn’t been mowed in several years (there was various small woody plants and other weeds up to 6 ft tall). We moved right before winter, and enjoyed watching all the birds, especially the blue jays and cardinals that would regularly visit us. The following summer, we put a lot of work into cleaning up the yard to make it look nice, including the area outside the fence.
    As winter #2 in the new house progressed, my wife commented on how many fewer birds there were than the previous winter. It wasn’t until a few weeks after her comment that I finally realized why: I had destroyed the area they had been using for food and shelter. We now have a back yard feeder, and as long as we keep the squirrels away, the bird population is as high as ever.

    • I understand as my story is just the opposite. Living in SW Florida if is difficult to have a nice lawn without a sprinkler system and constant care. I do not have a sprinkler system and got tired of fighting nature. I tore out all the grass and replaced the entire property with native plants and flowers and cypress mulch. No more wasted water, no more constant care with chemicals to control weeds and bugs. Life is much easier now and less expensive. An unexpected benefit is now I have lots of birds, butterflies, snakes (the good ones, Southern Racers) and even rabbits that visit daily. So as the article acknowledges, not all change is bad, some is very beneficial and natural processes if left alone will usually tend to take care of themselves for the good of nature.

  32. More years ago than I’d like to admit I was a Boy Scout. We went on 2 week camping trip to Maine. Hiking through a gorgeous forest, we suddenly came across a clear cut area. It was filled with Blackberry bushes at least 3 yards tall. They would have been taller but they were bent over from the weight of all the berries. Scattered throughout were bears harvesting the abundance. They weren’t the least bit interested in us.
    Our guide explained that, in Maine, they sold logging plots about 500 yards wide and about 20 miles long so that the logging companies were cutting fire breaks into the forest. Sounds like a “win-win” to me.

  33. What is really quite striking from the numbers included here is the scale of re-forestation in New York – something which has been mirrored all over North America. By the end of the 19th century, the Eastern part of the northern US was almost all pasture/agriculture and now it has mostly returned to forest (as the mid-west took up the reigns of food production). 19m hectares in NY alone – that is a lot of CO2 fixation….
    And now there are “conservation” efforts to make sure some of the forests are clear cut regularly in order to “maintain” certain species population. But prior to the influx of European settlers, the entire area would have been old-growth (beavers alone can’t clear enough land to make a difference) so these very species we are trying to encourage are actually only there because of human intervention! If this kind of change were only just being done now, the “conservationists” would be up in arms that we are removing the habitat of species that need old growth forests and allowing in the influx of “invasive species” which do better in disturbed habitats.
    This just goes to show how ephemeral our human short-term ideas of lanscape really are. In the UK, conservation efforts are focussed on preserving pasture-land habitats – which again never existed until the old-growth oak forests were cut down in the 16/17/18 centuries. Just who gets to decide what the “right” habitat is which should be conserved?

    • Rob:
      The East coast Native Americans did clear trees in places. Their movable villages would be moved occasionally and the old area allowed to refresh itself. They also moved their villages to and from summer/winter areas.
      Native Americans cleared areas for gardens often planting the ‘three sisters’; corn, beans and squash.
      So while large tracts of land were maintained old forest, there were many clearings, meadows and brushy areas too. Native Americans often used fires to control forest and clear growth areas.
      In the Midwest, Native Americans burned the grass to keep trees from turning the grasslands into forest. While this was just an expansion of already existing natural processes it was also used to capture food, rabbits and birds for the winter.
      Eastern American forests were primarily, (up to three fourths), American chestnut trees with the remaining trees being a mix of mostly hardwoods, oak, cherry, maple and hickory.
      When the Europeans arrived, the primary wildlife for dinner were turkeys and squirrels. The term ‘barking a squirrel’ became synonymous with accurate shooting, but came from the practice of shooting the branch just under the squirrel and stunning the squirrel.
      Shooting a squirrel with a 36 to 76 caliber rifle is decidedly overkill and destroys meat. Plus a squirrel killed while clutching a tree often will not fall making a hungry hunter hungrier while climbing to fetch their squirrel. But a stunned squirrel does not clutch the bark and falls from the tree. Barking a squirrel provided more and better quality meat.
      Deer were not uncommon, but they were not as common as today. Deer survive in a mature forest, but they thrive in mixed forest.
      There was also an eastern cousin, believed, of the bison, called the woods bison.
      Remember, many of the immigrating Europeans nearly starved while getting used to the differences.
      As Kip pointed out, farms were the first reason for clearing of forest. As such, much less desirable land stayed forested so that lumberjacks were still working Eastern woods into the 1930s.
      During WWII, Eastern mountain forests provided red spruce for planes. Rumor has it that the ‘Spruce Goose’ utilized quite a lot of red spruce in Howard Hughes’s plane.
      Many areas in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine stayed forested till after WWII and helped support the housing boom after the soldiers returned.

      • Having grown up in PA, I can tell you that the state is know to have (As of when i last lived there, about 15 years ago) a huge problem in that there are few young forests. There is no logging there, not in my lifetime, which is since 1961.
        I have read accounts that confirm what was alluded to in this article…that after the civil war, PA was clear cut from East to West during reconstruction. The woodsmen that worked at the front of the Union army as they pursued their foes through the south became incredibly efficient at clearing out a path wide enough for the army to pass, used the cut wood to build corduroy roads and bridges for the following army and the equipment they brought along with them. They cleared this path as fast as the army could march. These same people, returning home after the war, are the ones employed to cut the trees. I grew up in one of the homes built during these years…a house built in 1876 in Center City Philadelphia…and I can tell you it was a lot of very nice wood used.
        Anyway, the accounts of the clear cutting are well documented, so there was almost no virgin old growth forest left after that in Pennsylvania.

  34. “However, a homogenized environment is not what wildlife needs. It needs all kinds of habitat niches – including clearcut and burned over areas, beaver-dam created meadows as well as mown hay fields and highway roadsides and fence line hedges.”
    I recently read an article stating that comparing city, suburbs, and country, the largest variety of birds is in the suburbs. That ties in with your remarks- both city and country are more homogeneous than suburbs, with varying amounts of trees, shurbs, gardens, etc in each lot.

  35. Thanks for `broaching this subject.
    Interestingly, this issue–bird population data–overlaps with another issue of great import: Data manipulation.
    The Audobon Society sponsors one of the oldest “citizen science” projects: the Christmas Bird Count. Every year, within two weeks of Christmas, citizen scientists hit the field and collect data–counting and recording every bird they see in their designated area.
    ” The National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is an early-winter survey of birds. Although counts occur in Central and South America, most CBCs occur in North America. The sample area for a count is a circle that is 15 miles in diameter, and varying numbers of volunteers count all birds they see in the circle during a single day, which is within 2 weeks of 25 December. (Butcher 1990)
    “Although this analysis only considers the interval 1959 – 1988, the CBC was begun in 1900. The number of circles and participants has changed dramatically since the early years. Butcher (1990) notes that 1,508 circles were surveyed in 1986-1987. Unfortunately, the number of birds counted is a function of effort, and analysis of change over time must incorporate some effort adjustment (Butcher and McCulloch 1990). In this analysis, we standardized the counts to birds/100 party hours, but we acknowledge that more research is needed into methods of adjusting counts…”
    So, just like North American temperature observations, there is a solid data base of bird count observations, going back to 1900.
    Note the careful attention to data quality: http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/bbs/introcbc.html
    Even with the clear issues with data quality (differences each year in: number of people in observation team, timing, day, weather, etc) there are apparently no massive “homogenization” or meddling with the raw data.
    It is all available online.
    They did create a solution to the data issues: they created a new data point: Number of birds per party hours. This provides a metric that takes into account some of the variables.
    But the raw data is there for posterity. At least, as of now. It generally tells the story of rising bird populations.

    • So the cats are strengthening the herd, might we conclude, by culling out the weak, stupid, old, sick, unfit, and slow/slow-witted?

  36. We have known that bird populations respond to landscape level habitat change for decades. How does that change the conclusion that climate change will cause major changes to bird distribution and abundance?

    • Reply to Luke ==> “How does that change the conclusion that climate change will cause major changes to bird distribution and abundance?”
      Well, Luke, it doesn’t at all change that conclusion, except that there is as yet no particular convincing evidence that “climate change will (or has) cause(d) major changes”. The fact that environments change, particularly human land use changes, means that bird populations and distributions will also change. If there are climatic changes, then there will be environmental changes. In fact, that is the point of both this and the previous essay. As land use changes, as environments change, so do bird populations.
      Humans can’t stop, nor did they cause, the repeating historic droughts of the American Southwest and so we should simply be able to accept that there will be some loss of habitat and bird numbers there. Efforts, if conservation groups wish to finance them, can be made to support example populations in limited areas until the drought lifts or simply let Nature have her way.
      For most of this country, and Europe, human land use has been by far the biggest factor in environmental change as it effects wildlife — past, present, and we can expect this to remain true for the future.
      The point of this essay is the the NY State DEC realized that certain endemic birds and small mammals were suffering serious loss of habitat, thus numbers, due to a change in how we humans interact with the forests, in this case, we have prevented some forest clearing (suppressing fires and beavers, for instance) and slowed down the clear-cutting and wood harvests, thus reducing the number and distribution of Young or Transitional Forest habitat throughout the state. The Young Forest Initiative is their solution, clear-cut up to 10% of the states land holdings, bit by bit, in 5 and 10 acre lots, to create young/transitional forest habitat.

      • Whether Dutch Elm disease, Chestnut blight, or hurricanes like Hugo, examples abound of the fact that nature is not efficient, and does not preserve the status quo. These trees should always be harvested, and that in a responsible manner, not just left as if they are outdoor furniture.
        Leaving these forests in the mature state that concludes the natural succession, from grass lands, to shrubs and pine, to mixed deciduous, and then mature hardwood climax forest is, as the article rightly points out, a wrongheaded and myopic view of proper stewardship of the environment.

      • I wonder what would have happened if the green movement would have been around twenty thousand years ago, when the two mile high continental glaciers began to melt, and the climate changed in a way that allowed every single creatures and living thing in the northern half of North American to even exist?
        I am sure they would have decried the habitat loss of whatever few creatures scraped out a meager living on the slopes of the massive wastelands of the ice sheets.
        Would they have insisted policies be put in place to futilely try and prevent North America from becoming ice sheet free?
        The only constant is change.

  37. Climate Change = more Wind Mills = more Bird Mortality = Declining Bird Populations. Circular analysis, anybody?

    • Reply to RockyRoad ==> I’m afraid that that is only trivially true.
      Some hard pressed raptor populations, slow breeders, are particularly harmed.

      • I agree. Bird mortality from wind mills is dwarfed by the effects of windows, power lines and associated power poles, roads and vehicles (almost 100 golden eagles were observed killed along highways near Rock Springs, WY in one winter). Some large raptors with limited distributions that coincide with wind energy farms and low reproductive rate may be negatively affected but the impact on most bird populations will be negligible. I will take limited mortality from wind farms over potentially massive changes due to climate change in a second.

      • Well, sure, Luke–but the assertion that we’ll see “massive changes due to climate change” is a pie-in-the-sky guess, nothing more, nothing less. Do you have anything besides skewed computer models to support your supposition?

      • “I will take limited mortality from wind farms over potentially massive changes due to climate change in a second.”
        Oh, you will, will you?
        Well, I will not take it…I will fight it!
        While we still have these birds left to save.
        Your BS regarding power lines and roads is pure nonsense and misdirection, almost entirely non-factual.
        The evidence for large numbers of birds killed by power lines is far thinner than the exaggerated claims for cats causing massive harm. The problem of a bird’s outstretched wings shorting out the terminal of the separate conductors has been long ago resolved. Small nesting songbirds cause an occasional substation short every now and then, but even these issues are more often caused by squirrels. It rarely happens, as attested by the reliability of our power supply.
        Luke, your attitude is the problem.
        These bird choppers, if the plans of the greens continue to be put in place, will create an impassable gauntlet for large birds. As it is, the areas in which they exist are a death trap from which few large birds can escape. And when you look at the amount of power thus produced, compared to what is required to achieve the carbon free plans for power generations, it is obvious that a hundred times more of these will need to be erected. It will do little good, and massive harm, even if one were to concede that CO2 is in the slightest way dangerous.
        Birds passing them do not even have to be hit by the blades of the windmills…the pressure wave can kill them, or suck them in, once they get within a certain distance.
        It is likely that these will cause the absolute extinction of whole classes of birds if they remain and in fact become more widespread.
        And by the way, what climate change are you referring to? Please be specific.
        What evidence do you have, what can you show, that provides even one tiny speck of evidence that a trace gas will cause even one bird to die due to atmospheric effects?
        I challenge you to provide such evidence. Considering your brutal and shameless disregard for the lives of these innocent and majestic creatures, which preceded us by tens of millions of years in their claim to the airspace now occupied by your birdchoppers, you must have strong evidence indeed.
        Unless yours is a position borne out of sheer ignorance, and disregard for facts, and indifference to the rules evidence based science and reason.

      • Don’t forget that large numbers of mosquito-eating bats are getting bumped off as well. So we might see an increase in malaria caused by a counter-productive response to an imagined threat of “climate change.”

      • Menicholas don’t waste all of our time! Estimates of bird mortality from wind mills is more than three orders of magnitude lower than EACH of the following sources: buildings, powerlines, cats, automobiles, and pesticides. There are many scientific studies that have looked at this one citation is below. Peter Marra is a coauthor on a recent paper in Frontiers in Ecology (behind a pay wall) that shows the same thing (link below the Erickson paper).

  38. Kip,
    My family is from the hills of northwestern Pennsylvania. After my grandparents left the farm a new owner planted fields of pines meant for Christmas Trees. Another place I know well, about 15 miles away, got the same treatment. Maybe half the pines were harvested but many remain, now inter-grown with local species. In the late 40s and 50s many large Chestnut trees were still standing, home for squirrels – Hickory nuts were their food source by then.
    Prior to my time, so before the 1940s, there were 2 things (not counting farming) locally that contributed to the cutting of trees. One was leather production (tanning of hides) and the other was providing logs for uses (flat-bottom boats on the Ohio) to the westward migration. Local men would cut trees and with the spring run-off float the trees to Pittsburgh, sell the logs, then walk home – about 80 miles. From my area, the last run of logs was in May, 1915. (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~pacpiney/index_files/pineydam.htm)
    Use the following to search “images”: ~ flat boats migration ohio river ~
    Other parts of the eastern forests were cut at other times and for various reasons. Search the link below for the “Great Clearcut” (1890-1930).

  39. So manmade micro environments benefit some species.
    What about the big raptors?
    Here in North America I sense they are under assault.
    Govt sanctioned blind eye by regulators of wind industry.
    Just got back from a road trip through Alberta, Saskatchewan, North & South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, Out on the plains and in the Windfarm free hills we saw lots of Hawks, Owls and a handful of Eagles, came back through Pincher Creek Alberta not even a raven from Waterton Lakes to Fort Macleod.
    Now it may have been the time of day, but I was paying attention as this was curiosity of mine.
    Now in Cody Wyoming we attended a talk on Raptors at the Museum, great presentation.
    I asked the spokesman if these very smart birds could learn to avoid wind turbine sails.
    He said possibly but due to the forward and down orientation of a raptors eyes they may never learn what hit them at 200 miles per hour.
    Who is gathering this kind of information?
    With the environmental organizations mostly done over to the Cult of Calamitous Climate, and openly worshipping these whirling replacements of the Christian crucifix, who is gathering accurate data?

  40. Bird populations are declining? When’s the decline in bird poop on my car and deck going to decline?

  41. I have a Siberian Huskie that kills (and eats) birds at every opportunity. She’s much more successful than any cat I’ve ever known. No ambush, just quick. And I’m not talking about quail or roadrunners that are present here: those she doesn’t have any hoping of catching. Why, I’m not sure- seems the quail would be easy, the roadrunners impossible.
    The quail have a dozen or so offspring every Spring and we watch their coveys decline over the weeks following their hatching, but most seen to fall victim to coyote predation. My dear domesticated dog seems to have little interest in them, though she will eat the hindmost if given the opportunity.
    Our neighborhood (SW of Tucson in the open desert) has no feral cats, or domesticated ones left outdoors (says everything about their ability as free-range predators), but plenty of coyotes and wild pig-like critters called javelins. They and the dogs don’t give much of a damn about each other; neither seem to want to get into fights over anything. Yeah, the dogs bark and the pigs cower, but not once has that escalated into a fight of any kind.
    The sweet (properly fed) Huskie also killed and partially ate a local skunk with no remorse. Conclusion: we as humans are in no position to judge the inclinations of our earthly co-inhabitants because we are totally incapable of discerning their motives about anything at all.

    • Larry, I agree with you… there are some areas that have feral cats, but also large areas with few or none.
      These studies being referred to assume a feral cat population on the order of magnitude of the number of people in the country.
      I think this is clearly ridiculous.

      • Reply to menicholas ==> The studies are NOT about feral cats — they are about free-roaming domestic house-kitties.
        Think of your local grocery store — how many shelf-feet are dedicated to cat food? Cat food sales, pet supply sales, humane society intakes, and surveys of pet owners gives us a good idea of the national domestic cat population.

        • Kip,
          Careful: “The studies are NOT about feral cats — they are about free-roaming domestic house-kitties…”
          Yes, the studies are about ALL cats–feral and domestic.
          “Cats kill billions of birds and mammals each year and are the number one cause of death of both, according to the US Fish & Wildlife Service and Nature Communications. While one pet cat may kill one to 34 birds a year, a feral cat will kill as many as 46 birds a year. Over the years, it is known that cats have brought about the extinction of 33 bird species including New Zealand’s Stephens Island Wren.”
          Most people are unaware of the massive number of feral cats, and the human support systems that exacerbate the problem.
          There are huge organizations and numbers of individuals who provide health and legal support to these feral cat populations.
          That is not to minimize domestic cats, and their impact on birds. But feral cats are a huge, and growing problem.

      • Reply to Kent ==> Quite Right, I should have been more careful — the “kitty-cam” studies are not about feral cats.
        Loss et al. 2015 not only includes feral cats but estimates: “~69% of this mortality [is] caused by un-owned cats. The predation estimate for un-owned cats was higher primarily due to predation rates by this group averaging three times greater than rates for owned cats”.
        The feral cat populations depend very much on location location location — in some areas, as we have seen in comments, feral cats are coyote food, house kitties hiding inside at night. Rural areas with hard winters have very low numbers of truly feral cats — cities, with lots of warm sewers and basements and underpasses, have higher numbers. The temperate states have high populations free living.
        Thus, and I repeat just for emphasis, feral cats should be rounded up by animal control officers and either adopted into homes that will confine them to the owners house and/or property, or euthanized as we have done, for the most part, for feral dogs.

      • Some cats may kill 34 birds, but many more almost never manage to catch one. Some are observers. Some are inept. And they are easily distracted by anything else that moves and is easier to catch.
        I can write a whole book about cats I have had and their varied success at hunting. Most house born and raised cats do not ever eat what they catch…except bugs…those they eat fairly often.
        They do not know how to eat them, and usually only kill them by being too rough. Once dead, they lose interest and walk away from it…although a few will play with a dead mouse for a few days, tossing it into the air and swatting at it.
        The phrase “I hate meeses to pieces” sounds accurate, but a careful examination of cats playing with their catches shows me that, for house cats anyway…they love them rather than hating them.
        Love them to death!
        I think cats think mice and cute and adorable.
        I have had several, including my current primary cat Dewclaw, who brings birds inside without damaging so much as a feather, then releases them so he can chase them around without them being able to escape.
        I had one in Altamonte Springs who would catch lizards. He never did more than chase them…after bringing them inside.
        When I moved from there, I lifted up a large table to find Jones’ collection of maimed and mummified lizards…he collected them and placed them all in one spot! And it appeared that in seven years he caught several dozen, despite spending all day sitting outside trying to catch them while those lizards crawled around by the hundreds everyday.
        I seem to recall learning that when the first Europeans came to North America, what they found was basically an unbroken forest from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Plains, except where Native Americans had carved out their smallish communities.
        If true, it may be that there are far more birds, and bird species, than was the case before we got here and “ruined everything”.

        • “I can write a whole book about cats I have had…”
          All of the cat-addict rants about the horrible data in the cat-bird predation research are quite amusing.
          What data would be sufficient for cat-addicts to accept the waste and devastation their parasite-hosts wreak on the world?
          The current national data is based on sample counts of cat hunting for long periods of time (a year), for population blocks (village, town, neighborhood). Those objectives numbers are then combined with estimates of cat population (based on surveys and counts), to arrive at the estimate of birds killed annually by cats.
          Evidently, the only possible data that the cat-addicts would accept is video-tape of each each and every bird killed by a cat.
          Until every cat is forced to wear a body cam, that ain’t gonna happen.
          So, we have very well-done estimates of birds killed by cats, given in a large range.
          Cat-addicts are likely unable to process this, since many of their brains are hosts to the same parasite infecting their feline masters: Toxoplasma gondii or Toxoplasma.
          In 2012, research revealed that cat-owners run the risk of constant exposure to the organism. Further research revealed that, when humans are infected with the organism, the parasite, in effect, takes control of the cat-addicts’ brain.
          The parasite causes cat-addicts to be more likely to suffer mental illness, including ” schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and other mental diseases… there is also evidence to suggest infection by the parasite is linked to more extroverted, aggressive and risk-taking behavior.”
          So the next time a cat-addict says, “I can write a whole book about cats I have had…” you might want to take that as a warning of potential insanity.
          In the meantime, cat-addicts, when your parasite allows you, please let us know when you finish the comprehensive count of every bird killed by a cat in the US this year.
          Happy litter box scooping!

      • BTW, I catch those birds with a swimming pool leaf net and put them back outside.
        I have taken and released several snakes, and even a few small rats…although those I took down the block before releasing.
        I do not even kill insects in the house, (except the rare roach), preferring to let them back outside. Ditto large spiders.
        I can tell you, it is disconcerting to have a large rodent crawl across your foot while you are sitting at a computer desk. That one was courtesy of “Bad Apple” Jones, and luckily it turned out to have been a large mole, or I would have been seriously skeeved out.

      • “Most people are unaware of the massive number of feral cats, and the human support systems that exacerbate the problem. ”
        I for one, am not. My oldest brother has made his job for going on twenty years to are for a colony of feral cats who live behind the Walmart in South Philly (Do not ask me why…I would not do it. But we are part Native American, and I suspect it is because he respects all animal life. I also know a girl who carries around a giant bag of cat food in her truck in Boca, to feed strays she spots). He has enlisted a whole bunch of support, including vets to do the neutering and give the shots, and a bunch of people that assist in adopting out any that are able to tolerate people.
        In fact, both Jones and Tallulah (She is the wildlife behaviorist of the house) came from that colony, and turned out to be fine pets. It is suspected that any cats which will let a person get within thirty feet are escaped or lost house cats. A cat which is not handled by people prior to being weaned will never allow itself to be approached by a person, or so it is generally regarded to be the case.
        In fact, they obviousness of a congregation of cats that such examples makes clear, speaks to the ludicrousness of there being a hundred ones that no one ever sees for every one in a known colony.
        Outside of a human population enter, the land can likely not support more than a few cats per square mile, and only the very toughest can live apart from human support of any kind…they tend to cluster near human dwellings for shelter, and also because that is where there are large amounts of suitable vermin for them to eat. Songbirds are small, once you remove the feathers, and a cat can not survive on a meal or two a week. I know for sure that they catch more large insects than they do anything else.
        I work outside, have for decades, and spend time biking and hiking, as well as just sitting and watching, day and night, wildlife and the stars. I my area, I know there are three or four cats in an area of about a square mile. I know because I see them now and then.
        There are not hundreds, or even dozens.
        But there would have to be two hundred per square mile, in order for the estimate in the article for Lee county to be accurate.
        There is just no way. Unless you have more than these articles, you have zero direct evidence for the numbers…they are just made up guesses. And done by people with a clear agenda. This is evident by the language used…cats that people let outside are in great danger!
        So are people that get into cars, or cross roads. We would be much safer sitting on a sofa all day long for our whole lives.

      • The Stephens Island Wren, mercilessly slaughtered by Tibbles the cat:

        The wren population on Stephens Island was, in fact, the last remnant of a species that once lived throughout New Zealand. It was the third of the six known species of New Zealand wrens to become extinct. Thought to be the only flightless songbird in the world to be seen by Europeans, the Stephens Island wren was swept from the mainland by the Pacific rats that exterminated its two flightless relatives — the thick–thighed and long–billed wrens — hundreds of years before. The fourth species to go was the bush wren. Another island reserve, kept almost as pristine as a muttonbird island, was its last outpost. Black rats went ashore from fishing boats and finished them off in the 1960s. Only the rock wren and rifleman survive.

        But would the wren have survived if not for Tibbles?

        Construction of a lighthouse on Stephens Island in 1894 led to the clearance of most of the island’s forest, with predation by the lighthouse keeper’s cat delivering the species’s coup-de-grace [in 1895].

        In just one year, the lighthouse keeper’s cat decimated an entire species (apparently consisting of about 11 remaining individuals)—an astonishing accomplishment!

      • “Happy litter box scooping!”
        So, now we get to the hating heart of the matter. You just dislike cats, and the people that have them.
        I for one, let my cats outside where they take care of themselves, and I never see, or smell, their waste products.
        Try teaching a dog that trick. (I have tried…they will use a small corner of a plot if reminded often enough, but bury it…nope).
        I have never had a cat which was not a result of someone talking me into sheltering a poor little beasty that had no home and would wind up in a shelter and likely euthanized.
        You must have a reading comprehension problem…seriously.
        The issue is not if there are cats, or if they hunt prey…it is how many are there. You have no evidence to back up your claims, and now resort to ad hominem insults…just like a warmista!
        Not only are you deluding yourself that you know something that is not known, you are pusillanimously using your own belief to hate on people who have a different view and only want to share their place and time on earth with another of God’s creations. Pets give us love and companionship…and they are living beings!
        You sound like a really awful person, you know that? Sorry to say it, but it is true.
        Are you aware of what happens to populations of animals which are removed from the rigors of predation? Nothing good.
        We have removed most of the predators of small animals from the ecosystems of the Eastern US. Cats may in fact restore some balance. And in any case, they are only doing what cats have always done, everywhere they have ever existed.
        Small animals like rodents and songbirds respond to predation by becoming more fit, and usually the predation only brings the numbers into closer balance with the long term carrying capacity of the biome.
        Hope your imaginary army of murderous Fluffys hiding behind every bush does not keep you awake in a cold sweat every single night…just on weekends!
        Get a grip.

        • Awful is encouraging animal disease-vectors to deposit their infected feces all over neighborhoods full of human families. In saner times, we eradicated disease vectors.
          Pointing out the awfulness of disease vectors and their effects on the environment and society is dealing with reality.
          Toxoplasmosis is serious. And it can make you insane.
          “The demonstration that latent Toxoplasma infections can alter behavior in rodents has led to a reconsideration of this assumption. When infected human adults were compared with uninfected adults on personality questionnaires or on a panel of behavioral tests, several differences were found. Other studies have demonstrated reduced psychomotor performance in affected individuals. Possible mechanisms by which T. gondii may affect human behavior include its effect on dopamine and on testosterone.”
          “The parasite, which is behind the disease toxoplasmosis, also stimulates the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that provides pleasure. While this effect hasn’t been studied in humans infected with T. gondii, the same study hypothesizes that toxoplasmosis might also subtly change a human’s personality so that she develops a liking for cats. It may be one reason people who are fond of felines tend to keep several of them at a time (think: crazy cat lady).”

      • BTW, as if to punctuate our discussion, Tallulah brought home and killed a small bird in my living room…came home to a mess of feathers and a tiny corpse of what looked to be a baby mockingbird.
        Instead of burying or flushing it, i have propped up the corpse in a nearby tree, tied to a string. I have name it, too>
        Drum roll please…please pay your respect to little Kentclizbe
        Poor Kentclizbe…we hardly knew ye.

      • Toxoplasma gondii, the other recurring cat fear news story.
        Cats typically get toxoplasmosis from eating infected rodents. Infected cats have infected poop for 1-3 weeks after their initial infection, after which they can only spread the parasite by getting eaten raw by some predator. During that two weeks, the poop doesn’t turn infectious until 1-4 days after defecation, so cleaning a cat box daily eliminates what little risk the infection actually poses.
        Uncooked meat and raw fruits and vegetables are the primary source of human infection, with pork, lamb, and venison particularly susceptible. (93% of pigs tested on one Massachusetts farm had been exposed. Did they all get it from cat poop?)
        Toxoplasmosis is not fully understood. It is hard to discern in feces because the organism resembles many others that occur naturally. There are supposedly many different varieties of this organism. It does not cause mice to be ATTRACTED to cat urine, it simply stifles the fear mechanism—which could make them more susceptible to getting eaten by any predator. And the behavior change apparently occurs only in the mice that get notably sick from the initial infection.
        The creepy effects on humans are predicated with SUGGESTS or COULD BE—red flags for scare-mongering journalism and bad-science research grants.
        If you don’t eat undercooked meat, unwashed fruits and vegetables, or cat poop, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

      • Kip says:
        Thus, and I repeat just for emphasis, feral cats should be rounded up by animal control officers and either adopted into homes that will confine them to the owners house and/or property, or euthanized…
        Beg to disagree, and for a good reason. Cats are very territorial. If a feral cat has staked out a territory, other cats will respect it. They might pass through, but they won’t stay.
        The best solution (in the city, at least) is to trap feral cats, neuter or spay them, and return them to where they were trapped. That stops the breeding, and keeps other cats away.
        I know this works. After volunteering for several years at the local Humane Society shelter I’ve seen the results, and also heard that it works from lots of people. We did it at home, too: a feral, semi-tame stray decided to make our yard its territory, so we caught it, got it fixed (the Humane Society does it for free; they also gave it shots for distemper, rabies, etc., and a flea treatment).
        That cat has been in our yard for the past eight years, and it keeps all other cats out. Food is its pay — $10 for 20 a pound bag, which lasts 4 – 5 months.
        If we just eliminated it, other cats would move in. That’s what they do. So this is the best solution for all concerned.
        And we’ve never seen that cat kill a bird. It gets plenty of rodents, but the birds are too quick and alert. I suppose it could catch a sick, slow bird. But that’s Darwin for you.

      • “how many shelf-feet are dedicated to cat food? Cat food sales, pet supply sales, humane society intakes, and surveys of pet owners gives us a good idea of the national domestic cat population.”
        I myself suggested that cat food sales would likely give us a far better idea of populations…but those numbers are not used in any of the studies I have seen.
        In fact, cat food sales would likely put an upper limit on owned cats, as most people do not support a cat on human food…about the only items of which a cat would touch are meats.
        And the Humane Societies are one of the groups which dispute these figures of 60,000,000 or more feral cats, 10,000,000 in Florida alone, as well as doubting the numbers of birds and small vermin killed.
        Small vermin killed which some here seem to lump into a number sited as a grievous crime. And now cat owners are all insane retards with brain infecting parasites ruling their behaviors and responses.

      • “And we’ve never seen that cat kill a bird. It gets plenty of rodents, but the birds are too quick and alert. I suppose it could catch a sick, slow bird. But that’s Darwin for you.”
        Exactly…too quick and alert.
        My two cats have brought home an amount of birds that I could count on my hands over a period of three years. And one of them never even breaks a single feather…not sure how he picks them up in his teeth, jumps up the two jumps needed to enter through the cat doors, without harming them…but he does.
        She kills them…lived in the wild longer before being adopted is the likely reason. She understands they are food. For him…they are toys.
        But my recounting of the several dozen doves and squirrels inhabiting my yards was not idle chit chat…it was to illustrate an important point.
        My cats tried every day for years and never caught one of those doves, whose numbers increased steadily for a few years until their were always a few groups of them under one or more of my several bird feeders.
        I also have many, many woodpeckers, cardinals, scrub jays and blue jays, mockingbirds, chickadees, and some others that I do not know what they are. I am not a birder…just a casual observer. And a fan…I am sure my net contribution is far into the positive side with the half dozen bird feeders and dozens of fruit trees and bushes i have planted and maintain. Hell, they eat MOST of my mangoes every year.
        So my cats have caught a few over the years…a very few. I know one was because an incautious mockingbird made it’s nest in a small pygmy date palm (phoenix roebellenii) next to my driveway…once Dewey saw that, the two chicks were toast…I tried to move it but no luck. Bad nest siting. Tree was only five feet high.
        But that bird of prey that came to visit last Spring ate every one of those doves, and I do not know how many other birds, and plus all of the many squirrels…in a few weeks!
        I am not sure if it was a large hawk, or an owl…seeing it out of the corner of my eye only. I suspect it was a hawk. Owls tend to sweep in low and on a long trajectory, and hunt at dusk and dawn. Plus they make a racket with their whooing and screeching while inhabiting an area.
        These creatures all have predators, and in fact I think that any cats are in grave danger from the Burmese pythons which are now taking over the state…some reports are that there are few small mammals remaining in the everglades ecosystem.
        I have wondered if an owl could catch and eat a cat…or even a hawk that large…I think they could catch them, but the question is how would the cat react? Could it save itself? Or would the claws in the back of the neck paralyze it?
        Snake owners…those are some weirdoes, if you ask me…but no one did. Those things have eaten the owners children on occasion!

      • “feral cats should be rounded up by animal control officers and either adopted into homes that will confine them ”
        Feral cats, s anyone who has ever tried to interact with one knows, are generally very wary of people, and would not take to being confined or to living in close proximity to people. I am sure there are exceptions, which likely relate to being not 100% feral, but cats which are not handled by humans before a certain age are crazy lunatics if you approach them…it would never work. They would nearly all have to be slaughtered if this was decided on.

      • “Awful is encouraging animal disease-vectors to deposit their infected feces all over neighborhoods full of human families. In saner times, we eradicated disease vectors”
        Animal disease vectors, like, for example, the birds which carry avian diseases such as influenza, or pigs that do to, or the combination of them which is thought to be the source of the eventual next flu pandemic?
        Or maybe you mean the rats and mice which carry plague and numerous other diseases…which cats just happen to control.
        Just admit it…you are a cat hater, pure and simple, and your extreme hatred for them apparently extends to any who do not share your hate.
        You consider them parasites. This is the position of a kook…and actual crank.
        You gullibly believe wildly exaggerated numbers with no trace of skepticism, a completely unscientific position to take in any context or circumstance.
        You believe toxoplasmosis has infected the brains of every cat owner in the world, even, apparently, those whose cats never eat any wild animals (which is nearly every house raised cat…regardless of whether they go outside), and deposit their waste in carefully prepared and buried holes in the ground.
        You are really out there, that is for sure. Keep raving.
        You say you are amused by my rants…cool!
        I am not upset and ranting…I am just talking…but you apparently believe we need to eradicate 73 million American,s pets from the Earth, and kill a predator which is widely credited with keeping rodent populations in check for most of human history, all over the world.
        You yourself posted stats above that confirm bird populations are INCREASING!
        So what the hell are you even worried about? There are few predators in the Eastern US…and it is well known that there must be to maintain balance in any ecosystem
        Cats harm no one, and people love them…but apparently at least one nutty person wants to murder the companions of tens of millions of people…over a delusion.

      • OMG, Verdeviewer…that video of the mice eating the albatross chic is horrifying!
        Funny how the rats that seem to have done the majority of the harm to these island birds do not seem to register in the minds of the cat haters.
        I had forgotten that there were people who actually and strongly reviled felines, to a pathological degree.

      • Neither of the linked sources say one single word about the methodology they use to reach those numbers.
        And the numbers are far from a match, and are completely at odds with other data, such as the polling I posted yesterday from Gallup.
        The Gallup polls themselves showed that more people owned dogs than cats, by double digit percentages, and multiple dog home only slightly higher for cats than dogs.
        But the Gallup poll at least gave a methodology, and numbers for margin of error.
        Numbers that are twenty million higher from a one line statement of a company selling pet insurance are not in the slightest way credible.
        The Gallup poll also showed that in 1995, 41% of those polled had at least one cat, but 5 years later the number was 52%.
        All of this makes it clear these are WAG’s…mere extrapolation from scanty data unscientifically obtained and with no systematic method for arriving at a correct, or even credibly consistent, number.
        But, that is all only a small part of the main bone of contention…the number of feral cats.
        The study in noted above, in which a claim or several hundred thousand was found, after a systematic check, to be off by two orders of magnitude…roughly what I had thought based on my investigation and some common sense.
        The numbers in the study from WMI just gave a estimate for owned pets, then assumed that there was an equal number of feral animals…clearly not based on anything but another wild a$$ guess. At best. My thought it is more likely a deliberate exaggeration.
        I will not go into it too far, but a very large number of Florida communities, almost every managed community with an HOA, a POA, or a CDD, tightly restricts pets. Many refuse to allow them.
        Many more restrict them to a small animal, dogs under 20 or 25 pounds is a common number from when i was house hunting a few years ago.
        Many of the gated communities, which is a very large proportion of all housing in Florida, and is the vast majority of all new construction, have a no cats outside rule…strictly enforced. This includes virtually every condo, and nearly every apartment…you basically cannot have a cat or dog at many, and if you do their is a huge security deposit.
        I can tell you that in the places where I work all da long, the majority of which are managed properties, I have never once seen a cat outside in 12 years of working outside every day. They are just not allowed.
        This is by no means all of Florida housing…but it is a substantial percentage. One thing I know for sure…there are no feral animals in these places whatsoever.
        BTW, the only reason i am still talking about this is because I am curious about why some people will believe something for which there is no direct evidence.
        It is a very similar phenomenon to what we talk about here every day.

      • “Breaking Down the Bogus Smithsonian Catbird Study
        As advocates for all animals, we were dismayed by the irresponsible and biased conclusions of a 2011 study on bird deaths from the Smithsonian Institution.
        “Population demography of Gray Catbirds in the suburban matrix: sources, sinks and domestic cats,” published in the Journal of Ornithology1, is a limited study that cannot be extrapolated to represent the complex cat-bird dynamic nationwide. Much more disturbing, however, is how this data has been manipulated to malign cats and used widely to dredge up a false and counterproductive debate.
        The Smithsonian’s Conclusions Exaggerate the Facts
        The Smithsonian study relies on an extremely small sample size (just 69 birds) in a very limited radius (three sites within mere miles of each other). Opponents of Trap-Neuter-Return have already latched onto this study to clamor for cats indoors—a concept that, it is worth noting, is a death sentence for countless feral cats—but they are mishandling the data and misleading the public.
        It is absurd to think that a minor study conducted on a single species of bird in a small area of suburban Maryland could accurately be used to characterize the relationship between cats and birds in landscapes all over America.
        The press release circulated by the Smithsonian’s National Zoo further exaggerates and misconstrues the study’s findings, dramatically painting cats as the major threat to birds by stating that of the birds studied “almost half of the deaths were connected to domestic cats”—specifically, 47%. However, a quick look at the numbers shows this figure to be greatly manipulated:
        •Of the 69 birds studied, 42 died during the study. Only six of those deaths can be directly attributed to cats through observation.
        •The authors guessed that another three bird deaths could be attributed to cats based on circumstantial evidence.
        •The authors inflate the figure to 47% by focusing the discussion only on the number of birds that died due to predators, not the total number of birds in the study. They ignore the 27 birds that did not die, as well as the nine birds that died due to causes other than predation, and the 14 birds that died due to unknown predators. This leaves 19 birds that were killed by known predators.
        •The number of deaths attributable to cats is 9 birds out of 69—or 13%—not 47%.
        •But when taken as a percentage of all of the deaths from known predators, (9 out of 19) the number of birds killed by cats inflates to 47%—hyping cats’ impact on bird populations way out of proportion.
        Statistics are a powerful persuasive tool because people often take them at face value, but numbers can be manipulated too. The omission of 50 birds—well more than half the sample size—in calculating this figure dramatically changes the conclusions of the study.
        As the researchers themselves note, they also failed to examine whether the few deaths attributed to cats were additive—more birds dying than normal—or compensatory—consistent with the normal mortality rate for this species. Considering data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey, which shows the Maryland catbird population to be on the rise, the former seems unlikely. Cats specialize in hunting rodents; also, studies have confirmed that the birds who are caught are generally weaker animals who are not likely to have survived.
        Humans are the True Threat to Birds
        When rationally viewed, the Smithsonian study and the resulting press flurry has added nothing to the overall conversation about how to protect animals. Instead, it has only drawn attention away from the real threat to birds—people.
        Alley Cat Allies wants what’s in the best interest of all animals, including birds. Environmental experts say we must change the way we are impacting our environment. Until we can stop going in circles, perpetuating this false debate, and focus on the real threat, we are truly just chasing our tails.”

    • Thank you for that bit of information Larry.
      I love roaming the desert when I visit my Brother and I’ve kept my eye out for signs of feral cats, along with those noisy kinds of snakes, but I never spotted evidence of feral cats in the desert.
      Some mountain lion sign, occasional cat prints, (lynx?) near hill sides and brushy gullies, but that was it.
      I was beginning to wonder if domestic cats just don’t get enough time to acclimatize and actually become feral in the desert. Abandoned in a hot dry land far from water where even the humans from south of the border consider cats as good cuisine.
      Once about ten miles south of Pahrump, NV I was following a water course, (course, no water), looking for chalcedony. I used my flashlight as it got dark and ended up a fair distance from the car when it got really dark.
      Still a beautiful starry night with Vegas glowing in the distance I thought it was bright enough that I didn’t need the flashlight to walk back to the car.
      I was amazed how many footsteps I stirred up during that walk. I tried the flashlight a couple of times, but the footsteps would immediately stop and what eyes I caught, turned away.
      I figure the softer steps were jackrabbits as they tended to dash around me in a half circle. The coyotes only moved some small stones and didn’t make loud footsteps. I believe it was a coyote’s eyes that I spotted. Louder footsteps I suspect were antelope, only I couldn’t figure out where they had hidden as I blundered around during daylight and dusk.
      Though I shouldn’t be surprised. I once watched a pair of decent antlers about twenty feet away inch slowly past me in a field in Pennsylvania. When the buck reached a larger much taller brushy area, I heard him leap up and get the _ell out of there. That buck had to be crawling on his belly to stay so low. I was still hunting while following a fence row looking for pheasants and apparently cornered the buck at the end of a brushy area. My slow stop and walk process must’ve forced him to crawl away in the waist high weeds. I enjoyed the show.

  42. Kip
    RE: the Loss ,et al paper.
    Do you have a base count anywhere of the population of birds in the “contiguous United States” as referred to in the Loss paper? They don’t appear to provide one , and their “estimates” of annual predation counts seem vastly overstated.
    With the numbers they are peddling, several “contiguous US species” should already be close to extinction and listed on the IUCN Redlist. Curiously, the only one I could find there was the Northern Bobwhite.
    Although it is a ground-nesting bird, Birdlife International doesn’t even mention predation by feral cats as a source of its decline. Instead it cites over hunting (20,000,000 annually to 1994) and habitat loss as major factors of its decline.

    • I was wondering the same thing.
      How many birds are there?
      But my big problem is these estimates of the numbers of cats in the wild.
      The math does not work. There would have to be cities of cats, like there are cities of people.

      • I agree with you Menicholas,
        The math doesn’t work at all, and their study appears to be contrived of yet more smoke and mirrors “estimates’.
        “Existing estimates of mortality from cat predation are speculative and not based on scientific data 13–16
        or, at best,are based on extrapolation of results from a single study 18. In addition, no large-scale mortality estimates exist for mammals,which form a substantial component of cat diets.We conducted a data-driven systematic review of studies that estimate predation rates of owned and un-owned cats, and estimated the magnitude of bird and mammal mortality caused by all cats across the contiguous United States (all states excluding Alaska and Hawaii). We estimate that free-ranging domestic cats
        kill 1.4–3.7 billion birds and 6.9–20.7 billion mammals annually, and that un-owned cats cause the majority of this mortality.”
        A) They acknowledge that their own study is a “review of studies” that they themselves state are “speculative and not based on scientific data”
        B) Nowhere do they cite a single population figure for “all cats across the contiguous United States” (presumably the free-ranging cats), yet they freely cite numbers of supposedly cat-murdered birds , i.e “1.4 to 3.7 BILLION annually”.
        There aren’t enough birds in the entirety of North America, never mind the “contiguous United States”, to have supported this level of predation by any single animal , or even all predatory animals combined, over the past decades.
        This study looks about as convincing and “scientific” as the IPCC’s data.

    • Reply to msbehavin’ ==> Again, the Loss et al. paper in full is available here with the supplemental data here.
      There are vastly more birds numerically than people generally believe.
      Yes, the data on the Northern Bobwhite, for instance, list the the threats as:
      ” Threats — Changes in agricultural land use (weed removal and herbicide use), forestry (high-density pine plantations), and lack of use of prescribed fire have resulted in widespread habitat fragmentation (Brennan 1999). Over 20,000,000 individuals were recently being killed annually by hunters in the USA (del Hoyo et al. 1994); poor management of populations could result in declines. ”
      The Loss et al. study found free-roaming cats will take northern bobwhite nestlings, conveniently at ground level. This fact makes northern bobwhite very rare in suburban settings, even when lots sizes are large and there are nearby wooded areas, similar to where I live in the summer Upstate NY. This brings about what is sometimes referred to as “local extinction” or extirpation — Northern Bobwhite are no longer found in my immediate neighborhood.
      However, as the Northern Bobwhite has a huge and varied range, wiping them out of suburban areas doesn’t affect the larger picture nearly as much as habitat loss from land use changes and the hunting by humans.

      • Kip:
        Thanks for your reply, and a very interesting essay and discussion!
        We can agree that cats will prey on birds and other animals, and can be devastating to island (including Australia) populations of birds,etc. where felines were never originally part of the natural ecosystem.
        I see there is definitely room for more accurate research on the extent/impact of predation by free roaming cats , particularly in suburbia, where a host of other more compelling factors contributing to species decline are glossed over or ignored altogether.

  43. Post Script: My thanks to all who have read and commented on this essay about the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation’s new Young Forest Initiative, an example of how intentional, seemingly destructive, changes to the forests are actually constructive and help increase desired diversity of life, especially particular bird and small mammal species.
    Some brave souls have, despite being forewarned, wandered into the controversy regarding birds and free-roaming domestic cats (not to be read as “feral” cats) resulting in some spirited conversations.
    Thank you, every one,
    Kip Hansen

  44. Getting back to the rump of the essay: I think that the current ecological wisdom is that mosaic landscapes provide a wider range of habitats and support a greater variety of wildlife forms that monocultures.
    That particular piece of wisdom has been known for years but I’m glad that its been rediscovered again 🙂

  45. KIP,
    Your link leads to the USG site, but the podcast has been disconued…no videos available anymore.
    “The USG Podcast Server was decommissioned on June 30, 2015. You can only download any materials you have archived prior to June 30.
    After July 31, there will be no access to the USG Podcast Server.
    If you have questions, please contact your campus PCS Administrator”
    No kitty cam views anymore!

  46. Mr. Hansen,
    As an occasional poet, I am advocating for the abandonment of the straight-jacket of grammatically correct (GC) language use, when called for by such a fine circumstance as I see here.
    “How cheering to find common sense and applied science overruling the madness of “Stop Everything” we hear so often from the overwrought but under-thinking.”
    Oughta be *overwrought and under-thought* I say, and damn the torpedoes ; )

  47. Menicholas don’t waste all of our time with you misinformation! Estimates of bird mortality from wind mills is more than three orders of magnitude lower than EACH of the following sources: buildings, powerlines, cats, automobiles, and pesticides. There are many scientific studies that have looked at this one citation is below. Peter Marra is a coauthor on a recent paper in Frontiers in Ecology (behind a pay wall) that shows the same thing (link below the Erickson paper).

  48. The “cats kill billions of birds annually” so-called study is a load of crap. It’s estimated that there are between 10 billion and 20 billion birds in the US over the course of a year, including migratory birds “passing through.”
    If cats kill between 15% and 30% of the breeding pairs every year, and native predators including the exploding population of hawks take their fair share, why do we still see 10 to 20 billion birds every year?
    The study has been debunked – it’s as poor a study as some of the global warming studies I’ve seen, and almost as bad as Cook, et. al. The “researcher” has had it in for feral cats for a long time, and it’s been shown that his methodology for coming up with population numbers and frequency of bird kills is ridiculous.
    Please note that ferals are only part of the “free roaming domestic cat” population – there are a lot of “barn cats” in farm country which are not feral, and there’s still way too many irresponsible “cat owners” who think they should “put the cat out” at night. The idiots who think they should kill whatever cat they see wandering around are as likely to be killing someone’s pet as a feral.

    • The problem is that too many Aussies think that domestic cats should roam freely, leading to the massive feral cat population there. They should change their perspective on cats as pets, and keep them in the house or tied up in the yard, instead of looking at them as “occasional pets” who come around when they feel like it. The only thing the Aussies “have right” is that the domestic cat is an invasive species as far as native Australian wildlife is concerned. What they have wrong is the same thing all too many “cat owners” in the US and elsewhere have wrong, and that is that the way to control the feral population is to spay or neuter your pet cats, and keep them in the house – anything else is irresponsible.
      Having a wholesale slaughter of free-roaming cats in a country where family pets are, unfortunately, more often than not allowed to freely roam won’t fix anything, because the freely-roaming, fertile “pets” will quickly re-establish the feral population, and will very likely lead to the demise of thousands of otherwise-beloved family pets.

      • To clarify the last sentence/paragraph – the HUNT will likely lead to the demise of thousands of otherwise-beloved but allowed to freely roam family pets. It’s unlikely the authorities or those participating in a cat hunt would put any effort into verifying whether or not a freely-roaming cat is feral. The indiscriminate nature of such a hunt is the problem; the solution is to first educate all cat “owners” as to their responsibility, and then to set a date far enough in the future with frequent PSA’s warning cat owners to take their pets indoors and keep them there or they will be caught up in the feral massacre – if a massacre is truly the only and best way to control the feral population. There should be more humane ways to accomplish the same results.

      • Reply to jstalewski ==> The Aussie Solution, draconian as it may be, is exactly how the US, at least, handled the feral domestic dog problem, which is at the present well under control (for the most part).
        Once it is established as a national policy, and the major effort has been made to round up existing feral populations, then the problem changes characteristics from a Big Problem to an ongoing Nuisance Problem, similar to what we have in the US with feral dogs — they are a nuisance in some areas, but local efforts generally keep the problem under control.
        I think that if Pet Cat Owners are given adequate notice, they will control their pets. If they fail to control them, they risk losing them to the Cat Police.
        In the States, we first required licensing and registering of dogs, and proof of rabies vaccination. Thus “beloved family pets” were generally identifiable by their collars and tags — and if swept up by the Dog Catcher, owners were notified, fined and beloved Fido returned home.
        We could do the same for cats.
        In truth, feral cats are a extremely destructive invasive species and we must just grit our teeth and do what needs to be done to protect the larger environment without excessive empathy for the vicious little predators. (And I like cats….)

      • Kip,
        After I retired I worked at the local Humane Society for several years. If you really think that your idea for killing cats, feral or otherwise, is going to get traction, I double-dog dare ya to give it the old college try.
        As for Australia, they also have an out of control bunny problem. But that’s Australia.
        Here, stray cats are a problem, but they’re not a big problem, and as I’ve pointed out there are alternatives that would not make the hundreds of Humane Societies in the U.S. go ballistic.
        Believe me, you don’t want to be seen as a kitty killer.

  49. A cat hunt is a fever dream. It won’t happen.
    The Humane Society would go ballistic, and politicians listen to them because there are plenty of cat owners who vote. And as far as individual cat haters are concerned, the local news just reported on a guy who was caught on a security camera killing a cat. He’s getting lots of death threats now, and he faces years in prison if convicted (I saw the video, and it’s hard to see how he wouldn’t be convicted). Also, don’t forget that lots of serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer started out as cat killers.
    Regarding the argument that cats kill more birds than windmills, that’s a worthless comparison. There are more windmills being built all the time, and they kill raptors. Cats kill sparrows, not eagles and falcons. And the sparrow population is not in any danger.

  50. Kip, this isn’t Australia.
    Cats are simply not a problem here, except maybe in a few locations.
    Sure, they kill small birds. So what? You want more sparrows? You can have all the sparrows you want around here; come and get ’em! Grackles and starlings, too. And plenty of crows, but they’re too big for felix. I just wish cats were as skilled bird killers as claimed.
    I’ve only rarely seen a bird that got killed by a cat, and in fact it’s been rare my whole life. It happens. But not as often as claimed, and cats kill a lot of rodents. The feral in our yard regularly leaves what little is left of mice and gophers on our patio. Good!
    We have a video security system, and at night possums, raccoons, and sometimes an occasional mouse comes by. We never see those in the daytime. I wouldn’t mind it if the cat got them, too. But the mouse is the only one that has anything to worry about. And sooner or later, he’s a goner.
    This issue is a tempest in a teapot; a distraction from the increasing number of windmills going up, and the raptors and other apex birds they constantly kill. And besides, there are other ways to fix the problem for anyone who’s that concerned.
    When I worked at our local Humane Society, people would constantly bring in feral cats to be fixed – free of charge. This explains it. Trap/neuter/return (TNR) stops the breeding and the feral cat keeps others away. There are groups like this in every metro area. Usually no charge, but of course they’ll ask for a donation.
    TNR fixes the problem better than killing the cats, because if a cat disappears, other cats will move into its territory. Now, if you like the idea of killing cats, that’s one thing. But if you want to fix the problem, there are better ways. And you won’t get the ASPCA screaming to Congress.

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