You are Probably a Criminal. Hands Up–Drop the Feather!

Guest Opinion by Kip Hansen – 30 August 2020



Earlier this year, I wrote about the Migratory Bird Treaty Act [MBTA] and the efforts of the current administration in the United States to clarify federal law to ensure that it was no longer used by non-elected government bureaucrats to criminalize the accidental or incidental killing of migratory birds.

Once the new rule was issued, various interest groups sued to have the new rule vacated.  That case has now been decided – based on two very important legal standards:  fiction and opinion.

Now, it is very important to realize that it is the norm, not the exception, that cases like these are decided based on the opinion of the judge (or judges) handling the specific case and on all the opinions (decisions) issued by other judges in similar or related cases of the past.

The oddest thing is that this case seems to have been decided, in part, based on the opinion of a fictional character, Atticus Finch, one of the protagonists of Harper Lee’s magnificent novel, To Kill a Mocking Bird.  

Here I quote the first paragraph of the opinion (aka Case 1:18-cv-04596-VEC Document 89) written by the Honorable Valerie Caproni, United States District Judge, Southern District of New York, who was appointed in 2013 by then-President Obama.

“It is not only a sin to kill a mockingbird, it is also a crime.1  That has been the letter of the law for the past century. But if the Department of the Interior has its way, many mockingbirds and other migratory birds that delight people and support ecosystems throughout the country will be killed without legal consequence.”

 Footnote:  “1 See Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird 103 (Harper Perennial 2002) (1960) (“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”); 50  C.F.R. § 10.13(c)(1) (2013) (listing “MOCKINGBIRD, Bahama, Mimus gundlachii” as a species protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act).”

Thus, the opinion (which just means a judicial decision in a case) is based on two fictions:

  1. The expressed opinion of the fictional character, Atticus Finch.  I’m a bit leery of using Atticus as a legal precedent, but at least he was a [fictional] lawyer.
  2. The fiction that “That [it is a federal crime to kill a mockingbird] has been the letter of the law for the past century.”   The Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior never even considered taking legal action against accidental and incidental “taking” (killing, trapping, etc) until the mid-1970s [ source ] when anti-war and anti-draft activists jumped on the Rachel Carson-inspired environmental-activism wagon.

These two fictions sum up the entire decision of Judge Caproni, though she spends 31 pages of discussion of past opinions of other judges.  Through the simple process of agreeing with those prior opinions which match her bias and dismissing those prior opinions with which she does not agree, she supports herself in her biased, activist position that results in absurd legal situations if taken as literally as she claims we must.

As much as she denies that this is so, she gives examples in her opinion clearly demonstrating some of these absurd situations.  Take for instance this section:

“Second, Interior’s application of constitutional avoidance relies on an unpersuasive predicate application of the void-for-vagueness doctrine.  That doctrine “requires that a penal statute define the criminal offense with sufficient definiteness that ordinary people can understand what conduct is prohibited and in a manner that does not encourage arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.”  Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352, 357 (1983).  Although Section 2 is broad, it is not vague.  A law is vague if “it is unclear as to what fact must be proved.”  F.C.C. v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., 567 U.S. 239, 253 (2012).  Due process requires that “laws which regulate persons or entities must give fair notice of conduct that is forbidden or required.”  Id.  Far from statutory language that criminalizes “contemptuously” treating the flag,18 “obscene, indecent, or profane language,”19 or “conduct that presents a serious risk of physical injury to another,”20 Section 2 [of the MBTA] gives persons fair notice of what exactly is criminal—it is unlawful to kill migratory birds by any means.  See United States v. Smith, 29 F.3d 270, 273 (7th Cir. 1994) (“We are quite confident that ordinary people can understand [Section 2]’s clear and precise language.  That language tells ‘ordinary people’ this: if you possess any part of a migratory bird, you break the law.”)”         [emphasis added – kh]

Here is the full text of the statute:

“Unless and except as permitted by regulations made as hereinafter provided in this subchapter, it shall be unlawful at any time, by any means or in any manner, to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture, or kill, possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to barter, barter, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, export, import, cause to be shipped, exported, or imported, deliver for transportation, transport or cause to be transported, carry or cause to be carried, or receive for shipment, transportation, carriage, or export, any migratory bird, any part, nest, or egg of any such bird, or any product, whether or not manufactured, which consists, or is composed in whole or part, of any such bird or any part, nest, or egg thereof, included in the terms of the conventions between the United States and Great Britain for the protection of migratory birds concluded August 16, 1916 (39 Stat. 1702), the United States and the United Mexican States for the protection of migratory birds and game mammals concluded February 7, 1936, the United States and the Government of Japan for the protection of migratory birds and birds in danger of extinction, and their environment concluded March 4, 1972, and the convention between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for the conservation of migratory birds and their environments concluded November 19, 1976.

Dear reader, I ask you, having read the law, is it your understanding, as an ordinary person, that if you pick up a robin’s feather from the lawn in your backyard, you have committed a federal crime?    Of course not, neither do you consider yourself a criminal if you pick up a robin’s egg that has fallen from a nest or one that has failed to hatch and has been abandoned by Mother Robin.   Yet, Judge Caproni insists that her opinion is true and must be applied not only to killing but the other prohibited actions as well.  She insists that “ordinary people” would realize that they are committing a criminal act by collecting and keeping even the broken fragments of a robin’s egg, left after Baby Robin has hatched and flown away.

Have you ever picked up a pretty feather from the roadside and taken it home to delight a child?  Judge Caproni says this is a federal crime!  … and that “any ordinary person” would realize they are breaking the law.  Not just a “jaywalking-type law”, but a federal law for which there are prescribed fines and terms of imprisonment.

By the way, as Judge Caproni interprets the law, you are also guilty of a federal offense “punishable by a fine of up to $15,000 and imprisonment for up to six months” if you chase greedy birds (say, grackles or cowbirds) away from your bird feeder or out of your vegetable garden – that is an unlawful “pursuing”.  Collect old bird nests?  Federal offense.

Do you have glass windows in your home?  If so, you are at risk of committing the federal crime of killing a migratory bird by the act of failing to prevent said bird from killing itself by flying into your plate glass window or your sliding glass door.  You may have already done so and failed to report yourself to federal authorities.


I admit, at risk of imprisonment and fine, that I have, in the past, committed this crime several times in various homes that I have owned.  While I lamented the death of the birds, I did not think that these deaths made me a criminal, even though bird strikes are somewhat preventable.  Bird strikes can be reduced by placing various types of stickers on one’s windows.

If you are an ornithologist , you have probably committed lots of federal offenses by pursuing, capturing or attempting to take various birds, their eggs, their feathers and nests unless you have a specific FWS permit to do so.

Wait a minute, wait a minute…don’t hunters legally kill lots of ducks and other migratory waterfowl each year?  Yes, they do.  How many?  As of 2010, “Close to twenty million ducks and geese are shot each year by hunters in the United States and Canada” [ source ].  Not only do the federal and state governments allow this slaughter, they literally sell the privilege to kill these migratory birds to hunters in the form of Federal Duck Stamps and state-based hunting licenses.

You see, “FWS and DOJ have been careful to bring enforcement actions only in limited circumstances, such as when an entity has been repeatedly warned of the take, and has refused to take available measures to minimize it, or when large numbers of birds are killed.” [source: the Caproni opinion].

But, hey, come on, we just read Judge Caproni saying that legal void-for-vagueness “doctrine requires that a penal statute define the criminal offense with sufficient definiteness that ordinary people can understand what conduct is prohibited and in a manner that does not encourage arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.”  Yet she justifies  the absurdity of the practical result of her opinion that “all killing of migratory birds is a crime” with the fact that FWS/DOI [Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior] arbitrarily enforce the law, discriminating between offenders – supposedly obviating the absurdities.  She assured us that  they would not arrest my eight-year old neighbor for shooting a robin with his new BB-gun or his parents for killing a migratory duck without permit by hitting it while driving on the Interstate.  [ Note:  If that seems to be hard to understand, it is because it is blatantly contradictory.]

This fight has been going on for a very long time – with legal opinions in various cases falling on both sides of the debate – “Any Killing Is A Crime” and “Only Intentional Killing Is A Crime” – and several versions in the middle ground.  There is a very good discussion on the issue in the .pdf here.  For further review, a search of scholarly articles on the topic is nearly endless – over 38,000 and counting.

In truth, the original purpose of the Migratory Bird Treaty(ies) was expressed in this:  “The 1916 Convention proclaimed the purpose of “saving from indiscriminate slaughter and of insuring the preservation of such migratory birds as are either useful to man or are harmless.”  The original statute  [MBTA] covers a lot of ground, most of it commercial in nature – “possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to barter, barter, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, export, import, cause to be shipped, exported, or imported, deliver for transportation, transport or cause to be transported, carry or cause to be carried, or receive for shipment, transportation, carriage, or export.”

This most current decision, which will surely be appealed by the Department of the Interior, is a prime example of continued “judicial activism” intended to stretch the breadth of the law from simply covering “indiscriminate slaughter” (in its time, this meant massive market hunting and hunting birds to fulfill the demands for fancy bird feathers, mostly for women’s hats,  and bird eggs for collectors) and spread it out to criminalize even the accidental and incidental — “by any means or in any manner”— actions, each action itself perfectly legal and expected,  in many cases unavoidable, that could possibly be construed as or result in something akin to  “pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture, or kill” any, even a single,  migratory bird.

My copy of Black’s Law Dictionary defines judicial activism as a “philosophy of judicial decision-making whereby judges allow their personal views about public policy, among other factors, to guide their decisions.”

And here we see the value of “forum shopping”.  In general forum shopping involves filing a law suit in a specific district court chosen for the likelihood  that the case will be assigned to a judge favorable to the plaintiff’s cause.   For environmental-issue cases being appealed,  the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is by far a favorite.  “Judge shopping” is a little trickier but can be accomplished (see, for instance, here).   The plaintiffs need to get their cases assigned to sympathetic judges because these cases are invariably decided based on the bias and opinions of the judge selected.

The cases in this instance were filed by various parties:  National Audubon Society; American Bird Conservancy; Center for Biological Diversity; Defenders of Wildlife, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation and various states: State of New York; State of California; State of Illinois; State of Maryland; Commonwealth of Massachusetts; State of New Jersey; State of New Mexico; State of Oregon.  The special interest groups have very deep pockets (National Audubon alone had annual receipts of over $83,000,000 in the latest year reported) and the states are spending taxpayer dollars.  They know full well that the decision will be appealed, but hope that the November elections will bring a change in the political party that controls the Presidency (who heads the executive branch of government and thus DOI and FWS), or at least Congress.

A bill was  proposed in Congress in January 2020 on this topic:  HR 5552, “Migratory Bird Protection Act of 2020”.  It was assigned to the House Committee on Natural Resources on 15 January 2020 and nothing has happened with it since.  It states (in part):  “INCIDENTAL TAKE.—The Migratory Bird Treaty  Act (16 U.S.C. 703 et seq.) is amended in section 2(a),  by inserting “incidentally take,” before “attempt to take,” ”  and “”IN GENERAL.  —  It shall be a violation of this Act for any person to incidentally take a migratory bird as a result of a commercial activity…“.   There is a lot more to the bill, but in my opinion, it fails utterly to exempt ordinary citizens from criminal prosecution for the accidental, unavoidable, incidental killing of migratory birds in the normal course of living their lives.   Thus, it simply increases the risks of arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.  Ordinary citizens engaged in any commercial activity (anything that is intended to make money) will remain uncertain as to exactly what they must do to protect themselves from arbitrary FWS enforcement and their snitches.

According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, the vast majority of annual bird deaths (as of 2017) are caused by: (these are median estimates)

Cats:    2,400,000,000  (yes, that median estimate is well over two billion).

Collision – Building Glass:  599,000,000

Collision – Vehicles214,500,000

Poison:  72,000,000   (by various chemicals)

Collisions – Electrical lines:  25,500,000


All the other usual suspects combined – oil pits, wind turbines, solar power plants – amount to less than one million.  FWS cheats a bit in its reporting by combining all but Cats and Vehicle Collisions under one heading “Industry” thus adding up to 709,684,000.   Whereas the top three categories, none of which we can do much about in any case —  Cats, Buildings, and Vehicles –come to a whopping 3,214,000,000.  There doesn’t seem to be any categories for what ordinary citizens would consider “industry” – factories, manufacturing, normal power plants, the building industry (not the product, but the activity), airlines and all else.  See here for my response to the major threat.

Rational citizens must wait and see —  hoping for some sanity on the subject from the appeals courts.

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Author’s Comment:

I’d like to thank reader Michael Brienesse for bringing the new decision to my attention (via the WUWT Tip line).

Much of what is wrong with many of our reader’s nations is the result of the usurping of legislative authority – law making authority — which is intended to be in the hands of representatives elected by the people — by government bureaucracies and departments of justice (your national government may use a different name).  At the European Union level, laws and regulations are passed and enforced almost entirely by non-elected, non-representative bureaucrats.

In far too many cases, these bureaucracies and judgeships are filled with what Bari Weiss recently characterized as “those living in a distant galaxy, one whose concerns are profoundly removed from the lives of most people. This is a galaxy in which, to choose just a few recent examples, the Soviet space program is lauded for its “diversity”; the doxxing of teenagers in the name of justice is condoned; and the worst caste systems in human history includes the United States alongside Nazi Germany” and I will add this bit:  “and in which the accidental killing of a bird can be prosecuted as a federal criminal offense, or not, quite arbitrarily.”

Criminalizing unavoidable results of legal actions and activities is, quite bluntly, insane.

Thank you for reading.

Read more, read widely, read critically.

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227 thoughts on “You are Probably a Criminal. Hands Up–Drop the Feather!

  1. Ah, nothing quite like logical but absurd conclusions to prove we have a bored society. Or, as in this case, prove that not all solutions require a problem.

    • Land of the free is only an illusion. The bureaucracy and their judicial cohorts in crime, have quietly and conveniently instituted a set of rules and regulation, sans legislative input (the better to get elected by) that allow Big Brother to take us down whenever we make waves towards their Central Authoritarian Governance.

    • Ah! So I am to understand that if a sparrow approaching my feeding station on my front steps in the winter, just looking for food, dies in mid-flight and ends up in a snowbank, I’m responsible for the death of the sparrow because the bird food I put out should have been in the yard where the bird, who died in mid-flight, was headed?
      And I should have known in advance that the bird would show up at all?
      And I should have been standing there, waiting, with a pan of birdfood in my hands?
      And the fact that as a bird, it was very likely at the end of its life anyway, despite my putting food out for it?
      So it’s my fault the bird is dead, rather than Nature taking its normal course?

      That is possibly THE DUMBEST piece of legislation I have read in a very, very long time. Twisting things to suit oneself, using fiction instead of fact to support a decision, and making it “mea culpa” when a bird flies in front of one’s car – well, people like this have nothing better to do than waste their time writing opinions that are overblown and valueless and make a public disply of their own ignorance.

      I hope that crows rook up on her front lawn this winter and stare at her accusingly.

      • Thank you, Kip Hansen. I will continue to attract the little feather flockers and let everyone I know, especially those who hunt for pheasant and turkey, that they are endangered by this legislation.

        • Sara ==> Yes, except for turkeys — which are not on the MBTA list — they are always always year-around residents and are not migratory.

          If they have a state license to kill the pheasants, they get a free pass, at least on the killing part. If they possess a feather — they may be required to prove the feather came from a permitted bird.

          See the story about the dream catcher sent to Hillary Clinton.

      • I’d also like to add that I will post this elsewhere, because I have a lot of friends who like to hunt during the fall season through to the end, with turkey and pheasant being two things the like to bring home. They need to know about this, too.

      • AntiBanshee ==> Wind power comes up in the section on threats to birds according to the FWS. The main story is about the new decision re he MBTA — not AGW, Green energy, etc etc.

  2. as soon as I read the judges name and her pedigree I knew any decision would not be made on law or rational critical thinking.

  3. Well written, well researched – thank you.

    I wonder what would happen if this judge were asked to rule on New York’s lack of a comprehensive cumulative environmental impact study for their Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act that will surely cover the countryside with wind turbines, aka Cuisinhart’s of the air.

    • Perhaps someone should go out at night and strategically drop a number of offending feathers and broken eggshells on her lawn and car then post youtube videos of her “cleaning up” the mess committing various offences to the statute

    • I heard briefly on the radio the other day, that if one of the blades of a wind turbine is painted black, it greatly reduces bird kills. I never heard any details though.

      • Jeff ==> Yes, a new finding — still some more research to do on that — but it looks like it might help reduce the skaughter, the contrasting blade seems to help the birds see that there is motion,

      • So does it decrease it by one third? The real message is in the details. Have they tried painting all 3 black which also should help with de-iceing?

        • Ed ==> we’ll have to wait for further research. It was my understanding that the one black blade allowed them to judge movement of the blades better.

      • Jeff ==> Yes, there is a research paper on it — but it is only reduces, not prevents. Reduces is good though, if real.

  4. These laws are “gotcha” laws used by government to go after people they don’t like.

    “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime” was what Stalin’s police chief said.

    This is the reason Soros spends lots of money trying to get district attorneys elected.

    • Don’t worry, Steve! As long as you’re not wearing a MAGA hat or registered as a Republican there is little chance of you being arrested for this crime, at least!

  5. Equal protection under the law is what needs to be practiced. All entities that have activities that kill migratory and endangered species need to be fined appropriately. I can think of a few wind farms and solar thermal facilities that might come under scrutiny, and I do wonder if birds are attracted to solar panels like they are to windows. Thus if any bird is killed during the production of power from wind, solar thermal, or solar panels, the cost of the fines must be included in the cost of production of that power. This will fairly address bird kills but all power producing entities.

    • Wind turbines disproportionately k!ll more slowly reproducing large migratory birds and birds of prey.

      And of course bats, which control insects. So far, American bats haven’t been implicated in human viral disease, even though the largest known bat colony is in Texas.

      • How long till griff pops up to tell us that since cats kill lots of sparrows, it doesn’t matter how many raptors get killed by windmills.

        • Thought he did that last time the subject came up. Can’t expect him to actually remember past arguments!

  6. This illustrates how obsessed socialism is with having complete control over every aspect of the lives of its citizens. The one who believes that much must be left to individual responsibility finds this excessive legislation abhorrent. More laws do not make for better citizens. A limited number of basic laws are much easier to understand and remember by the average citizen. Those who look after themselves and their families and care about their communities are not going to get involved in activities that cause harm and damage. For those who do, there are more than enough laws to address the problems. Perhaps some of these need to be rewritten and simplified or even abolished. But before the state using laws as a rod, parents should be using discipline to raise responsible children.

    • “More laws do not make for better citizens”

      Reminds me of a Danish joke concerning the fact that so many thing are forbidden in Sweden:

      Swedish government will rewrite the laws to entail what is permitted.

  7. Uh…most mockingbirds are NOT migratory but like many birds are year-round residents…

  8. So wind turbine owners and operators would be exempted from prosecution but if I was gifted with a wing primary feather by a soaring Golden Eagle as I was as a young man hiking in the Wasatch Mtns. of Utah I could be arrested! They are killing hundreds of eagles EVERY YEAR and I’m in legal jeopardy for picking up a feather from the ground!?
    It’s a good thing that I now self identify as a lesbian Native American; I can’t be prosecuted for possessing the feather and if I was erroneously tried and convicted I would serve time in a women’s prison! But I could die from exhaustion!

  9. I thought it was going to be a comment on the self-defence shooting, but quite sincerely, one of the most interesting articles I have read. The judgement is quite appalling because it does as you say leave the position TOTALLY unclear and very open to politically motived individuals to apply the law according to their own political view … in other words to use it to mount attacks on a purely political basis … they decide to make “illegal” actions after they have occurred just because they do not like the politics of the individual.

  10. Does anyone really believe that cats kill 2,400,000,000 birds/yr (presumably this figure is for the US)? That is roughly 6,575,000/day, 274,00/hr, and 4566/min! C’Mon man. Probably half the cats in the US are indoor only and thus not in the ‘equation’. The remaining are mostly indoor/outdoor, hence spend limited time in a bird available environment, and many cats simply don’t hunt anything outdoors, or very little (I have 2 of them, they’re well-fed and uninterested). Finally, birds are tougher to catch than many common rodents and cats are not continuous killing machines when outside. They sleep A LOT! So where is the FWS getting these outrageous numbers?? Oh, a model. Never mind.

    • Cats in the UK are almost entirely out door roaming: the number of indoor only cats in the US is a surprise to UK pet owners.

      • In the US a lot of outdoor cats end up as road kill, only and idiot lets on cat roam, good thing do not happen to roaming cats.

      • Griff, have you a source for that? In my experience UK cats are in the indoor /outdoor category. As in the USA most are well fed and hunt rodents by ambush.

        • Griff has a habit of making facts up as he goes.

          I still want to see a cat take down an eagle !

          Still waiting to see a picture of a higher order bird killed by a coal fired power station.

    • Well-fed cats still hunt for fun. They’re programmed to do so.

      Even young cats can catch mice, but adults are death to songbirds and even jays, quail and flickers. The corpses I collected in my yard for decades told the tale. Both feral and domestic cats participated in the slaughter. Too bad they didn’t k!ll starlings.

      • John
        Most of those kills you picked up, and presumably ended up in a landfill, would have been consumed by creatures of the night had you left them there. In nature, nothing goes to waste. In that landfill, the work is left to bacteria.

        Cats of any stripe will ‘keal’ small animals. However, I doubt that feral cats will just leave them for something else to eat. When my cat brings home a ‘present’ for me, I put it on a concrete tile away from the house. It is always gone by the morning. King Kong has yet to show up, however.

          • John,
            You said, “No landfill.”
            But, that doesn’t change my claim that instead of feeding creatures higher up the food chain, it was bacteria that ultimately disposed of the potential animal food.

            Yes, and the evolution of a new creature will “disturb the natural cycles” as well. And, obviously, anything influenced by the hand of Man is unnatural!

          • Cats are an introduced species, originating in Eurasian and North African woodlands.

            Humans are also an introduced species to the Americas. We wiped out most large animals here, many of which also originated in the Old World. Such migrations are normal in the history of life. North America gave Eurasia and Africa camels and horses.

            I fed soil organisms rather than above ground creatures of the night. The corpses soon get maggoty, except in winter.

    • The small birds around us, including swifts nesting under our eves, were wiped out when a flock of crows moved into the adjacent belt of trees – they raid any nest they can find. If we had not moved here before the crows came, we would be wondering about cat theories.

      As far as bird populations are concerned, Think of what would happen if the average pair laid 4 eggs each year, and 3 survived to breed the next year and so on.

      • Song bird population are declining because three reasons, West Nile, more predatorily birds and wind farms. Only idiot don’t understand that what has change in the last fifty years. At this point and time we are over run buy idiots useful to Dimms and otherwise.

        • Bobcats, coyotes and local dogs running loose will all kill cats. One of the cattle ranches I worked on couldn’t keep feral cats around because the raccoons got into the mix as well. This led to a large increase in the incursion of rattlesnakes into the barn and other ranch buildings to hunt the numerous rodents that were thriving due to NO cats!
          I’m not at all averse to snakes, in fact I often catch gopher or king snakes and bring them home to patrol my garden, but rattlers are another story! Those I catch and relocate, preferably far away from humans and their offspring! If you kill a snake you are giving a reprieve to hundreds of mice and rats and other vermin! Cats, like snakes, kill many rodents; my cat tries to catch birds but is rarely successful from my experience

          • Abolition Man ==> Barn Cats are working animals — and tend to stay in and around the barn. I am surprised that the working cats had trouble with other wildlife.

      • I don’t know how many times I have told my cat to stay in the yard. She never listens to me. She’s as bad as a teenager!

        • Clyde ==> Seriously though — most places have laws that restrict other human-owned pets to the owner’s property — dogs, goats, chickens, and other livestock.

          The exception, for reasons unknown to me, are domestic cats — which people INSIST must be allowed to roam as they wish.

          If FWS were serious about bird kills — they would push for a national law to restrict cats to their owners homes and properties.

          • Kip
            Some not unreasonable reasons are that dogs can be a menace to humans, especially children. When I was in Pt. Barrow, I saw a couple of dead, frozen huskies stuffed head-first into a 55-gallon oil drum. I asked our driver about that (what to me was an unusual sight). His reply was that the dogs were working animals, not pets, and were kept lean, and hungry. Were they to get off their chains, they might kill a child. Therefore, there was a law that any dogs caught off chain would be shot on sight. There wasn’t a big problem because losing a dog was like losing money. Therefore, the dog catcher only went out on Tuesdays; it was a Tuesday. One regularly reads about children and even adult owners being killed by dogs in the Lower 48. Also, stray dogs can carry rabies.

            Goats, cows, and even chickens can be destructive if outside their usual areas, such as in a suburban neighbor’s flower bed.

            On the other hand, most people have a dislike of rodents, and cats are seen as a way to reduce the destruction from chewing and the spread of hantavirus. Cats have had a favored status since the invention of agriculture. Personally, I think it a reasonable trade-off to lose some birds in exchange for reducing the rodent population.

          • Clyde ==> Even cats have some small value to society — but keep them in your home. We are talking about domestic pet cats allowed to roam free.

            There are cats that are working animals — these are known as “barn cats” and have a legitimate purpose. Barn cats tend to stay where they work, catching and killing the barn pests which are their intended prey.

          • 2hotel9 ==> Yes, require licenses for cats, make owners put the licenses on their cat’s collars, scoop up cats found roaming and fine the owners just like we do for pet dogs.

            Many cat owners keep their cats in the house 24/7.

            The plan — don’t let them out!

          • Been tried, utter failure ensued. People oppose killing ferals, THAT is the major problem, not cats residing in homes. Ferals, being familiar with humans, are quite adept at avoiding us. Catching them,”Bob Barker-ing” them and releasing them is not really helping, either. When faced with a destructive nuisance animal, such as wild pigs and wild cats, you have to kill them. Look to the south/southwest and observe the failure to control wild pigs. Exact same thing is happening with feral cats, just much more quietly, cats being naturally quiet and stealthy.

          • “You got a plan on how to make that happen? Love to hear it.”
            Cats can be trained not to go places. I have done that with my last 3 cats. They are indoor cats but I do go out with them in the morning and evening. I do not let them out by themselves, too many bobcats, coyotes and hawks around. I walk with them but they are not on a leash or collar of any kind. I do carry a broom handle to fend off any undesirable creatures including other cats. But I also use it to train my cats. Let me be clear, I NEVER hit the cat. When they go outside the boundary of my yard I hit a bush or tree and use a loud forceful voice. The cats quickly learn not to do that. They do not like the loud bang or voice. Of course they always try to sneak outside their allowed area, but quickly stop and get back in the yard when scolded. Rewarding the cat when they do what you want them to do is crucial, treats and soothing attention.
            I have a nice sized yard covered with native plants and trees. My cats have always enjoyed some fun chasing lizards and climbing trees. It also gives me satisfaction that these once sheltered cats who had been living in cages can now act like a real cat, with supervision of course.

          • Tom
            I see that your cats have you well trained. They get to go outside with their own security service and have learned that they can get treats for making you make noise and swing the broom around to scare off any threats. 🙂

          • Kip
            You suggested, “… but keep them in your home.”

            Did you ever see the movie, The Truman Story, starring Jim Carrey? It raises an interesting philosophical question: “How small does a cage have to be before it is perceived as being a cage by a person or an animal?”

          • Clyde ==> Cats are PETS — keep your pets under your immediate control. . If you can;t keep them under your control, then the rest of society has the right to control them for you.

          • You sound more and more like an angry socialist with each comment. Put the shovel down and brush the dirt off your head and shoulders.

          • Clyde Spencer August 30, 2020 at 8:35 pm
            I see that your cats have you well trained. They get to go outside with their own security service and have learned that they can get treats for making you make noise and swing the broom around to scare off any threats. ”

            That is absolutely true. My current cat, Nika, a beautiful 7 year old brown/white tiger, even has a special meow for when she wants to go out and I ignore her normal call. She has learned that a different call, almost like she is in pain, will get my attention. Cats are very clever at getting what they want. She even makes sure I am out with her before starting on her daily patrol around the perimeter of our yard.
            But, since she had spent 10 months in a shelter cage, I figure it is the least I can do to give her a better life. And she certainly gives back with her own affection for my wife and me.
            BTW, it is a broom handle.

          • Tom
            What some zealots who claim to like cats fail to realize is that cats have different personalities and they also have desires to be free just as humans do. I had one cat that I adopted, which had been born wild and never completely socialized, but learned to accept me and my dog. However, it was absolutely petrified about going outside. It must have had some terrifying experiences before I caught her. On the other hand, I had a male feral cat that I suspect was half-bobcat. I got him before he was weened. The smartest cat I have ever owned! I took him from California to Vermont when I was in the service. Once there was snow on the ground, he would walk in the tire tracks on the road (they didn’t plow around our house) to a barn nearby and be gone for several days at a time. He would come home once or twice a week for some food and milk, lie by the heat register for a few hours, and then ask to go out. We wouldn’t see him again for a few days. He was presumably surviving on mice in the barn. He had decided to become a “working cat.”

            Most cats no more want to be kept in a house 24/7 than a prisoner wants to be confined to a minimum security penal facility. It is a philosophical question as to whether our ‘pets’ should be totally subservient to our wishes, or whether we have an obligation to provide them with an opportunity to do the things they want to do. I see them as independent spirits that choose to share time with me because they want to, not because I force them to. I understand that Native Americans had an ethic that if they saved someone’s life, they were forever responsible for the person. That is how I view my relationship to pets. They are not my ‘slave,’ but a willing companion for whom I have responsibilities.

          • Well said. Been around cats, dogs, cattle, horses, pigs, chickens etc etc my entire 58 years(including that 9 months I was a passenger) and anyone thinking they are going to enforce their commands on a cat or pig has either never spent time with these animals or has other issues.

        • Unless you lock them in a structure cats do what cats do. Jeff clearly does not know much about cats.

          • I’ve had cats most of my life, have one right now. He stays indoors and is happy. The couple of times he’s gotten out he ran right back in.

            The point is that it is YOUR pet, not your neighbor’s.

      • Jeff ==> Quite right — we have laws restricting other human-owned pets to the house or the owner’s property — why not cats?

        • Where I live it’s not specific, it’s just “pets” must be under direct control (not just voice control) if off your property.

    • I’d certainly like to see how they calculated that number. I suspects there’s a lot of big assumptions that don’t hold up to the light of scrutiny, particularly here in the US where a very large percentage of the cat population is mainly indoor (oh wait, you say it was from a model? Than I guarentee there are a lot of big assumptions that don’t hold up).

      Anecdotally, All the cats my relatives, my friends and I have owned over the years (upper double digits in number) have been almost entirely indoor and their bird kill total for the past several decades is: ZERO. So if the indoor population contribution to the kill count is negligable, that means the outdoor population has to be even more prolific killers that youn “roughly” calculations indicate. And those rough numbers already fail the laugh test as they were. 6.5 million a day? you buy that and I have a nice bridge in Brooklyn that you’ll likely be interested in purchasing as well.

      • John ==> You are a “Bird Killing Cat Denier!” — joke.

        You can look up the studies — I have done so — and yes, there are extrapolations. But even if the kill by cats is at the low estimate, it still amounts to 1.4 BILLION birds — more than any other single threat.

        I congratulate you for keeping your cats indoors where they belong. I would even congratulate you for confining your cats to your own property (if that were possible),

        However, in suburban and rural America, almost all cats are allowed out, most at will, according to surveys on the subject. Almost all of my cat owning friends, relatives and neighbors allow their cats to roam free — and almost all are of the opinion that “My cat doesn’t kill birds.”

        They do, however, kill birds, lots of them, even the nicest warm fuzzy kitty kills (and sometimes, but not always) eats any bird, particularly nestlings, that it can find.

        My family was surprised to find that chipmunks live in our area….we thought they didn’t until our long-time pet cat, Grey, died. within a year, we had chipmunks galore.

        • I have more rodent kills than bird kills. prob 5:1 or more ratio.
          the rodents that destroy gardens, get into houses, etc.

        • Kip I don’t deny that outdoor cats can and do kill birds (and rodents, and lizards, and pretty much any small critter that catches their attention), Just nowhere near the numbers suggested, I suspect. Low end, high end, mid-range estimate does matter, what matter is what are the assumptions they’ve built into those estimates and I suspect the assumptions are highly questionable (just like the models and estimates for other things that get discussed around here).

          And BTW I live in a suburban American neighborhood, the majority of the cat owners round these parts do keep their cats indoors. There’s only a couple of cat owners in the neighborhood that let their cats roam outdoors (and, frankly, if you are letting them outside, it’s impossible to keep them on your property, once out the door cats will go wherever they want to go, whenever they want to go – fences don’t stop them). so no, it’s not “almost all cats” that are allowed out, not even close round here. And while I can’t claim my neighborhood is representative of all suburban neighborhoods, I also see no reason to suspect it’s too different from many other such neighborhoods.

    • I don’t have cats but several of my neighbors do, including ‘rescue’ cats. I regularly find feathers/remnants from cat kills on my property…. and cat hair on my deck chairs (should I forget to cover them) where one of their feral tom cats likes to sleep at night. The same tom cat likes to spray urine on another neighbors garage door, front door, and deck… marking ‘his’ territory to intimidate that neighbors cat. A full nest of robin fledglings was eaten by cats this spring, waiting for them to try their first flights. I seldom see skinks, garter snakes, frogs, etc. on my property anymore… but often see cats prowling/hunting. As this is a suburban setting, people get irrationally upset if a citizen defends his own property against the feral attacks of their ‘pets’. And the laws are stacked against you, should your efforts be discovered.

      In urban areas, such as along the Duwamish River south of Seattle, feral cats are endemic… and you seldom hear a song bird sing in those areas nor see other ground critters of any kind. In my experience, the estimates of song bird kills and a lot of other critters by cats are probably low. Hunting and killing is what cats do, when their not sleeping, fighting, or breeding.

    • There is something else to be considered. There is a ‘fixed’ population of birds that is a product of available food, suitable nesting sites, and competition from other animals that fill similar ecological niches. That theoretical ‘fixed’ population is reduced by natural predators. Many of the natural predators, such as wolves, have been hunted to extinction. Others have been reduced in population because of habitat change caused by humans. On the other hand, coyotes and feral cats have increased in population because they are tolerant of the human changes in the habitat. What exists is a dynamic situation of fluctuating populations of predator and prey. Feral (and especially domesticated) cats have an advantage in that humans often feed them. They therefore are not living as close to the edge, as say a bobcat. With all predators reducing the prey, particularly the sick, injured, and very young, cats have an advantage for survival. So, in the long run, cats may have more of an impact on the competing predators than they do on the prey. So, the cute little birds get all the attention, while the primary impact may well be on the those long of tooth and fang. If all cats were to die tomorrow, there would be more food available for the competing predators and their populations would increase to fill the void created by the absence of cats. The whole situation is much more complex than “cats are bad” and “they eliminate x number of birds,” as though the bird population would permanently increase by x birds in the absence of cats. Things are rarely as simple as those who jump to conclusions.

      • Clyde ==> Domestic cats do not kill to eat — they kill because it is their nature to do so. They are, quite bluntly, cute little killing machines.

        I like cats, I really do. Keep them if you want a pet — keep them indoors or in your own yard. But, if I see them roaming, I am liable to take illegal action….

        • Kip,
          An old grumpy steam gauges training captain advised us to never hurt a cat.

          The superstition being that hurting a cat and being scooped with a teaspoon after a hard landing seem to be pretty well correlated.

    • In Defense of Cats ==> The 2.4 billion is the median estimate — from the Fish and Wildlife Service. See

      The HIGH estimate is 3.7 billion with the LOW estimate at 1.4 billion.

      There is a lot of research on the topic, which you can look up.

      Generally, I have found that Cat Enthusiasts just generally simply deny the slaughter by cats — “Oh, my cats doesn’t kill birds”.

      Truth is, cats don’t kill that many adult birds — the real slaughter is among the nestlings of ground and low nesting species (though some cats are very good at killing nestlings fairly high in trees. ) Cats gobble up the nestlings like my three-year-old grandson eats gummy bears.

      Cats are not much of a threat to the larger birds….

      • I am a cat lover and have no problem saying cats are killing machines. Apex Predators. That is the en vogue term these days. People think they are helping by catching, spaying/neutering and releasing ferals. They are wrong. Much as I love cats ferals need to be eradicated, cats are prodigious breeders and a single Tom has no trouble servicing a harem over a large area. That harem delivers at least 2 litters a year. People feeding those fems means even more Bitches and Tom turning out even more litters. Like wild pigs, breeding at an exponential rate cats can over run areas fairly quickly.

      • Kip

        Where I live, if the lawn grass gets tall enough to provide cover for ground nesting birds, the city will cite me for violation of fire ordinances.

        I think your blinders kept you from seeing the bigger picture that I presented. That is, cats are not inherently different from other predators. They are a part of the predator-prey dynamics and if some novel virus were to remove all cats, the bird population would be impacted very quickly by an increase in the other predators formerly competing with cats.

        While it is true that no one has ever found a cat skeleton in a tree, raccoons are better climbers. For the country squires in the readership that have pastures or haying fields, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, badgers, weasels, stoats, raccoons, opossums, and snakes are certainly as efficient at finding and eating ground-nesting hatchlings and eggs, and are a lot more motivated than domestic cats.

        I question the objectivity and thoroughness of the abundant research you refer to. I suspect that it has a lot in common with climate research, i.e. they have an agenda to prove what they already believe to be the truth. There is no way to objectively evaluate the relative impact of cats on the bird population without similarly assessing the take by all competing predators as well.

        • Kip

          A further point I’d like to make about quoting a large number of birds. It is not unlike the climate alarmists quoting so many gigatons of ice lost from Greenland. The big number tends to impress the uncritical reader, which is why it is used. However, when put in context of the total ice, or cited as a percentage, it is not all that impressive.

          So, while the number of birds lost to cats may be larger than any other ‘anthropogenic’ influence, unless it is in the context of the total number of birds taken by natural predators, it isn’t obvious whether it is significant or not. It is just a number that happens to be big, as most numbers about the world are. So, it isn’t established with sound research whether the impact by cats on the bird population is even significant in the big picture, without even taking into consideration that the cat take is essentially interchangeable with predators in general. If we remove windmills, it is primarily scavengers whose artificially inflated bounty will be reduced. This is in contrast to the service that predators provide by removing sick and injured individuals, and penalizing birds that choose nesting sites poorly. I had a morning dove lay an egg on a picnic table on the back deck. It rolled off and broke before a raccoon could even find it.

          • Clyde ==> I’m am quite unsure what you are on about. Look up the studies on the cat numbers and get back to me….it is not my data.

          • Let’s not forget that cats kill lots of useless rabbits. In fact, I think they prefer rabbit. I do
            myself, fried thought.

        • Clyde ==> You hypothesize a conspiracy against house cats? Come on….

          Domestic cats are an anthropogenically-introduced invasive species. They are perfectly welcome to live in your home (or the home of their owner). They are not part of the natural environment.

          • Kip
            You and Tillman have something in common. You both appear to believe that anything influenced by humans is unnatural. That means cows and horses and especially mules are “unnatural.” Horses were once present in the New World and were perhaps eliminated by early natives. They were then re-introduced by the Spaniards. It would seem that by your definition and value-judgment all the mustangs in the west should be exterminated, along with the burros. And here I thought that it was only the left-handed wingnuts that thought humans and all their creations were unnatural.

            While the domesticated Old World cat was apparently not present in North America before Europeans arrived, there were many cats present that occupied the same ecological niche as the European Wild Cat. That is, lynx in the north, bobcats in mid-latitudes, and ocelots along the southern border. While not in the cat family, the ring-tailed cat occupies an ecological niche similar to domesticated cats, having once been used by miners in the West to reduce rodent populations. My point being is that feral cats fill a role that is functionally indistinguishable from the native cats in particular, and small predators in general. They compete for the same food sources as native predators and provide food for the larger predators that Man hasn’t wiped out.

            Despite your claim of liking cats, I don’t buy it.

          • but they are. Cats keep rodent populations down, which is why they were “domesticated” (use that term lightly…more like they allowed us to give them a home).

            I get that you don’t like them killing songbirds, but they do more to protect songbirds than you may realize, by keeping egg stealing/eating rodent and bird populations from exploding and claiming territory, keeping nests in trees and generally allowing the ecosystem to flourish around to support that songbird.

            Anecdotal story: my cat Bear. When Bear was a live, he was indoor/outdoor, preferred outdoors actually as he was born a barn cat. Bear kept the yard and his territory well hunted. His preference was for squirrels and bunnies but didn’t bother with birds (that was the dog who used to bite off the heads and leave the bodies). Avoided the birds of prey we had around (hawks and eagles….except when the immature eagles started to learn to hunt, then he’d follow under them waiting for them to drop their fish). Voles and chipmunks too. How do I know all of this? Because when I pulled up the old deck, I found his k1lling ground. Also in our yard was a fantastic compliment of song birds, finches, doves (more once our beloved dog had passed–he liked doves) but no crows. Crows being the key here. I never had crows in the yard until Bear passed away. Once he passed away I had crows, no songbirds, no finches and barely any doves….just crows. The cat was gone, Crows had taken over. And my garden beds had torn and abandoned nests in them that had fallen from the tree littered with egg shells.

            Once I got another hunter cat (Mino somewhat and Orion, great hunter), the crows disappeared and back came the songbirds, finches and a variety of wildlife that all but disappeared when the crows were there. I watched Orion gun it up a tree chasing a crow away and the funniest thing happened after, the squirrels in the tree were helping—once that crow got to where Orion couldn’t get to, the squirrels went around the other side chitchatting and chasing that crow to the tall thin branches. It only took a week for the crows to figure it out and they left my yard. Soon after, the songbirds returned and the finches. And I never found another torn or destroyed nest under the tree.

            My yard did not exist in a bubble, this happens all over the place. I have a hunter outside right now and dang if I don’t have any crows but can hear all manner of songbirds in the morning. Nor do I have any mice that skirt into my garage either or can get into my car. And I don’t live in the country.

            Cats do more than you think. I get you like your birds, but they do a heck of a lot more in chasing away more destructive predators than you may realize.

          • Just Jenn
            Finally, someone who sees the world as more than just B&W and appreciates the complicated interrelationships between living creatures!

          • Clyde,

            Were our ancestors who wiped out the magnificent Pleistocene megafauna merely being our part of nature?

          • And how about Eurasia, the Americas, Australia, Madagascar, Hawaii, Reunion, Mauritius and New Zealand?

            Are you OK with us perfectly natural top predators hunting to extinction all the native species there?

          • Clearly, cat lovers are OK with the extirpation of wild species which have inhabited their environments for millions of years, so that these twisted humans can enjoy purring by domesticated species which really only care for food and warmth.


          • Do as I do, place bird feeders where cats can’t use them as buffets, also do all you can to remove ferals. Bob Barker-ing is not really helping, they still have plenty of years to kill everything that strikes their fancy, plus spreading whatever diseases they pickup along the way.

            Our feeding, year round, of songbirds insures that we do have them in abundance. People in metro areas need to get on the trolley and do their part. Each article I have seen about disappearing songbirds turns out to be in metro areas. Of course there are fewer in those areas, its a damned city, less naturally growing food, much more noise/disturbance, less nesting areas. More feeders, aggressive planting of wild flowers of all types and putting up nesting boxes of various types would see an increase in songbirds in these blighted areas. Not difficult, not expensive and lots of fun for kids, gets them some form of interaction with nature other than all the progandistic forced on them by TV and schools.(yes, that is not a word, using it anyway)

    • There are a lot of cats in the USA. The figure of 2.4 billion works out to be just over one bird per cat per month. This seems like a plausible number given that cats are predators.

    • It’s pretty well documented. You are right that less than half of owned cats have enough meaningful outside access to hunt, but there are almost as many cats that are not owned by anyone. If you’ve got 50 million unowned cats killing 2 birds a month then you’re already over a billion dead birds.

  11. 2.4 billion birds k!lled annually by cats? Is that supposed to be in the US alone?

    I’ve seen estimates that the US cat population is between 95-170 million. That would mean that the average cat k!lls 14-25 birds per year. Does that seem reasonable? That every cat in the country k!lls a bird every 15-26 days? I don’t buy it. Our indoor cat isn’t getting any of the action and our outdoor cat prefers rabbits, chipmunks, and mice.

    This estimate seems to have been cooked up to make the carnage caused by windmills seem less ghastly.

        • Hear, hear! I just had to endure 10 minutes of rubbing and chirping because the “Endless Buffet” was empty.

        • I’ll amend that to resident or collared cats. Even many resident, fed cats aren’t collared.

        • hooman slaves
          got one maine coon mix female tortoiseshell ( severe tortitude…look that up its a thing) that is extremely attached ot me. she thinks I am her spouse or something.

      • No sale. It’s models all the way down.

        In any case, I am confident that not one bald eagle, blue heron, red-tailed hawk, or California condor has been killed by a housecat. The same cannot be said for the hideous contraptions despoiling wild areas to produce unreliable electricity.

        • The large subspecies of Canada Goose cannot be either. Windmill can kill them also. The song bird decline is not due to cats, that variable has not change, West Nile, mode predators birds and wind mill all are new, yet the so called greenies prefer to whistle by the true grave yard.

        • Got to say we usually have at least to bird-A-matics in residence. Jelical;The Little Princess, Killing Machine is 14 now so she has slowed a bit. Lil’Babee Kitten Person is newest in the household and does her part to make the 8 foot tall birdfeeder a necessity. Saw her take a couple bluejays and several crackles off the 48″ chainlink fence. She just eyeballs the neighbors chickens, end of the tail tells what thoughts are proceeding there.

    • Having owned cats over decades, they have brought home voles, mice, shrews, and chipmunks. My current cat recently brought home a rabbit half her size, which wasn’t seriously injured. Strangely, I have never had a cat bring home any kind of bird! I don’t deny that cats can and will take birds. However, I suspect that the numbers are inflated compared to rodents. If rodents are undesirable around our homes, I think that we have a couple of choices. Put up with the collateral damage of birds or get a pet rattlesnake. Wait, I hear that snakes will eat birds and even bird eggs. In fact, snakes are probably better at getting into nests than cats are.

    • You are right. I see this all the time, wind mill activists trying to convince the ignorant that house cats are a bigger threat than their over priced government subsidized whirlygigs.

      That a house cat will kill the occasional hummingbird or house wren is besides the point.

      It’s not the quantity of bird kills, but the quality, that make wind turbines especially noxious.

      Turbines are preferentially installed in remote mountain passes that are prime treaty protected raptor habitat. Eagles, Hawks, Falcons, Owls, Vultures, Buzzards, and even Condors, are being extirpated from their limited historical ranges with barely a wink or nod given to the Turbine operators by law enforcement.

      These are birds with specific breeding patterns being expunged at rates far beyond their ability to reproduce.

      Other industries have been damned to extinction for far lessor crimes.

      And there isn’t a cat alive that ever took down an eagle.

    • “our outdoor cat prefers rabbits, chipmunks, and mice.”

      Do you know that he never hunts birds? If he’s out, how do you know?

      • Jeff ==> All of the studies done tracking cats with collar mounted mini-cams show that cats literally kill anything small enough to overcome, instinctively. Of course, notall cats are the same, some prefer grasshoppers and chipmunks, voles, etc. But almost all happily and readily kill, and usually eat, nestling birds of any kind they can gain access to. That is where the harm to birds lies — destruction of nestlings a smart cunning cat can and does catch a few adult birds as well.

  12. These unelected political hacks on the taxpayer dime are everywhere and a law unto themselves-
    There’s so many of them now that nothing out of their mouths surprises you. When you think about it what the Hell is a Chief or Deputy Medical Officer anyway anymore than our position of Chief Scientist and their Deputy? We should change their names to Chief Medical Bureaucrat and Chief Science Bureaucrat etc.

  13. The next time I shoot a pheasant with my brother I will pour a glass of special fruit juice and toast Judge Caproni as it slowly cooks. I might ever toast her several times. As a person who has walked underneath a row of giant wind turbines I believe the annual death rate for birds, including protected raptors, is much higher than stated.

    • Ron ==> Larger birds, the big raptors, are being slaughtered by the increasing number of wind power turbines.

      Painting on blade black seems to help abit — giving better visual clues of danger, but will not stop the killing as numbers of nearly useless wind turbines increase.

      We hope for sanity on the nuclear power front — Small Modular Reactors.

      • Kip, one of the surprises for me was the number of vultures killed by the turbines. Apparently the smell of dead birds drew them in and got them also. Anybody that doubts this slaughter can just go for a walk and find out for themselves.

  14. The mental state of the accused matters a lot. If the accused did not intend to break the law, she gets off. Most of the time it is up to the prosecutor to prove that the accused intended to break the law.

    Past that, there is the matter of negligence. If the accused knew that her negligence was likely to lead to some illegal/harmful consequence, then she could be found guilty of civil or criminal negligence.

    There is also the principle that the law can not compel anyone to do the impossible.

    However, ignorance of the law is no excuse. The problem with that is that the proliferation of laws and regulations makes it impossible for a reasonable person to know all the laws.

    In my opinion, the judge is pushing against the principles of natural justice unduly hard and perhaps even transgressing them. She is bringing the justice system into disrepute and undermines public confidence in the justice system.

      • Yep. That would be a BIG problem.

        The left thinks it’s a good idea to get rid of inconvenient things, like natural justice and due process, that get in the way of its version of how things should be.

  15. There is a sign on the beach at Port Aransas, Texas which says that you can be fined and jailed for driving through a flock of birds. I saw a similar sign in Canada about entering a refuge where a eagle was nesting. Strange thing is that it may have changed the focus some on types of research necessary for saving birds. They probably eat more fish on the Texas (and others?) coast than anything else, but try to find information on it.

    The migratory impetus came about because it was constitutional, had to do with treaties. A cynic would say that all a mockingbird would have to do is cross a national border, storm, norther, etc. Tropical birds got carried to New England in the eye of a hurricane once.

  16. Progressives would (will) criminalize much if given the chance.
    e.g. Criminalizing climate change skepticism.
    The battle to stop the crazed is ramping up to meet the aggressors.
    Pick any topic and the insane view is always the progressive view.
    Or rather, vice versa.
    The progressive view is always insane.
    With severity determined by magnitude of woke activism.
    A 23 year rioting white girl screaming BLM vitriol at a black cop is a picture of mental disorder in action.
    The trajectory is inescapably worsening with tomorrow capable of bringing more of the unimaginable.

    • And How many cats are in your Neighbourhood?
      We have several dozen just on our street and I have yet to witness a bird in peril from a cat
      I’ve had 10 cats in my lifetime of 58 years and none have taken a bird that I have witnessed.
      1 would hunt and kill squirrels and 1 would often line up dead sewer rats on our back steps but never found feathers

      • We have a family one that gets at least one every day but it’s main range area is the orchard so it’s a good thing. It’s a basic mongrel and most of the time it doesn’t even eat them it just seems to enjoy killing them.

        I am surprised none of your 10 cats have shown the trait are they pedigree or just mongrel?

        • Two were pedigree Siamese (hunted squirrels) and Burmese the remainder were categorized as Domestic Short Hair the good old House Cat

    • griff
      Did you actually observe the pigeon being taken by a cat, or are you just assuming? As I understand it, the UK still has a decent number of foxes and weasels.

    • Funny, penguin falcons don’t seem to have that problem, they treat tall building glass covered or not as nesting places, of course for every falcon alive they are a large number of other birds dead. Funny how Darwin laws escape you Griff.

      • Mark ==> I think your auto-spell corrector messed you up. Most penguins don’t fly — not even penguin falcons.

    • But if you account for exposure potential, Wind Turbines are far more likely to kill a bird than a building
      Collision – Building Glass: 599,000,000
      There are more building windows that that just in New York city (Manhattan)
      Same with vehicle collisions
      Collision – Vehicles: 214,500,000
      There are more vehicles that that registered just in the U.S.
      I’ve driven more than 15 vehicles (cars and trucks) over 1.2m miles total in the last 42 years and have never struck an animal
      But the average is 1.6 bird kills and 1 bat kill per Wind Turbine per year

      • The funny part is electric vehicles are more like than fossil fuel cars just based on noise. I expect the car strikes to actually rise as the number of EV’s increase.

  17. I would only state that placing stickers on one’s windows in an attempt at preventing birds flying into them is folly. The only thing that will prevent such feathered impacts is to reduce the mirror effect, which is what birds are attracted to – a reflection they believe to be greener pastures beyond. Thud…

    The only solution I have found to be effective is window screens, which also provide something of a crash impact barrier for the more deranged. Hummingbirds can be exceedingly deranged when feeding en masse.

    • TrueNorth ==> if one looks at the commercial offerings for Bird Collision Prevention stickers, some of them defeat the purpose of having a window!

      Screen are effective but silly on non-opening late glass windows.

  18. And we pay people huge money to write 32 pages of total bullshit and hypocrisy.

    The “doctrine” has become popular lately, too popular

  19. Again: I hear:
    “defund the police”
    “end police immunity”

    I don’t hear:
    “defund the FBI”
    “defund the alphabet agencies”
    “defund the judges”
    “end judge immunity”
    “end congress immunity”
    “defund intelligence”

    It’s as if the anti police slogans are written by
    – lawyers
    – judges
    – congresspeople
    – “spies” (meaning: third grade novelists)

  20. “… the Honorable Valerie Caproni, United States District Judge, Southern District of New York, who was appointed in 2013 by then-President Obama.”

    But, but, but, there are no Bush judges, or Clinton judges or Obama judges or Trump judges. Chief Justice Roberts tells me so. /sarc

  21. Why not just turn Judge Caproni in for violating this very law, bankrupt her fighting to clear her name. THAT is how you bring these leftist morons to heel.

    • Hmmm…. a ‘migratory’ blue bird or robin carcass ‘found’ in the grill of judge Caproni’s car, photographed in situ, and then a complaint filed with Fish and Wildlife might be a good start. Could her car be confiscated for ‘evidence’ of her heinous crimes, one wonders?

      • Complaint filed?

        How are you going to file a complaint against a Federal Judge? You’re just a CITIZEN*.

        You don’t have any standing a court in this country is obliged to listen to. (reference the 11th Amendment {the one you never hear about in medias} which rendered the “Bill Of Rights” a dead letter.)

        * Make no mistake, it sickens me that this is the way of things. Everyone of America’s troubles could be cured in an instant if the 11th Amendment were repealed. Suddenly we would have rights. Suddenly elected officials would skin in the game and practice public corruption at their own peril.
        And yet nobody talks about it.

  22. The judge would seem to be correct in her interpretation of the law as written. Intent is not required.
    It is for the legislature to remedy the situation, not the courts. That the existing law grants immense arbitrary power to the state is not in doubt.

    • Boff ==> Yes, intent is not required, but the law was written to prevent massive market hunting and hunting for the feather and egg collecting trade.

  23. Thank you so much! This injustice is a particular pet peeve and it’s great to see a lengthy and smart article about the ridiculous overreach and misinformation. Too many wildlife “experts” like to claim “why, it’s been illegal to pick up a blue jay feather since 1916”, while the fact is particular species are a list that changes constantly. Every few years there is a new list to which that treaty applies. And in order to determine, one would need to know which list was in effect at the time the alleged “crime” was committed – kind of like determining US citizenship, which also is defined only by continually changing regulation, and not by the Constitution or even Congressional Bill.

    So it’s not “just any bird”, but the birds covered are defined by constantly changing regulation that lists the specific birds, and omits others. I have links to the actual current lists but not sure if the filters will allow them,

  24. There’s no bird on bird numbers in the article. I’ve never seen a cat take a bird in any garden I’ve owned whereas I can think of three raptor on small bird deaths.

    When asked by Queen Victoria how to get rid of the sparrows in the Crystal Palace the then PM, the Duke of Wellington’s reply was succinct and to the point, “Sparrow-hawks, Ma,am”. He was right, by the time the Crystal Palace was opened by the Queen, they had all gone. Not Cats but raptors.

    • The breeding pair of hawks in my neighborhood have significantly reduced the grey squirrel population in just a couple of years. It seems that the bird population is similarly impacted, despite keeping a bird bath to attract them.

    • Ben ==> Avivores, are by definition,bird eaters. Avivorous birds, mostly raptors, do kill a lot of birds, but it is not quantifiable. Many birds, as well as squirrels and a lot of other seemingly harmless mammals, eat nestling birds. Even some insects eat nestling birds. Some preying mantises catch and eat hummingbirds.

      Cats eat nestlings like little kids eat Gummy Bears. In just a few minutes, a cat can gobble up all the nestlings in a nest. This is he major threat of domestic cats on birds who nest in locations to which cats can gain access. The piping of nestlings drives domestic cats to a frenzy of searching a way to get to them.

      FWS includes cats because they are considered an anthropogenic threat — they are human pets and/or invasive species.

      • Same effect a hearing aid dropped on the floor has, a very high chirpy whistle drives cats to go right for them.

      • Kip, Corvids in general and Magpies in particular raid birds nests for eggs and Young. American Grey Squirrels are also nest raiders in the UK. Martens which are being encouraged to return in various parts of the UK are partial to eggs and chicks, as are rats.

        Not having data, and it’s all guesses anyway, to compare natural to Anthropogenic depredation then number are just numbers. Humans must have eliminated natural predators from the wild as they have in the UK

        • Ben ==> This is a values issue. Do you highly value songbirds? Are songbirds more valuable than the :freedom” of your neighbors cats toroam your yard and kill songbirds (and rabbits, and chipmunks, etc) ?

          We don;t let your neighbors dog run free. We don’t allow your neighbors pet goat to run free (and eat other salespeople roses).

    • Mike ==> Native American nations are exempted from the Endangered Species Act in regards to eagle feathers. Other feathers, I don’;t know.

  25. This problem is intricate and complex, but I think I see where the trouble began.
    Here it is:
    MBTA – Aledged to mean the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
    In reality, MBTA is the Metropolitan Boston Transit Authority.
    Apparently, the Feds confused the transit needs of migratory birds with the transit needs of the greater Boston metro area. Chaos was the inevitable result. Your tax dollars at work.

  26. Fran wrote that birds in the locale massively reduced when a ‘flock’ of crows nested in nearby trees.
    Not a surprise as the proper collective noun for crows is “murder” (as in a ‘murder of crows’.)

    BTW , IAAL, the collective noun for us (in some quarters) is ‘a grasp of lawyers’.

  27. I see my comment is in moderation. Not sure if it was because I used the word ‘murd*r’ or because I user the dreaded ‘lawy*er’.

  28. OK, but is the taking of a feather from the ground a “Hate Crime”? This would make the act more heinous still. For example, I “hate” grackles.

    I will never understand a legal system that makes crimes out of ordinary acts that do no harm to anyone. This is socialism at its best – try to control everything that anyone can do and then only apply punishments when you don’t like the person or group.

    Nor do I understand why a crime is worse if committed against people of different eye, hair, and/or skin color. A crime against a person is a crime with a prescribed penalty. How can it be negated or worsened based on a person’s appearance? These racist laws and beliefs need to be tossed out with the other nonsense laws.

  29. Would this, on our local scale, imply that if we have a birdstrike departing from Cologne, I should divert to have maintenance remove the spot at Düsseldorf or risk to be jailed at Heathrow for illegally importing parts of a migratory bird ?

    This said, we genuinely hate birdstrikes and try, by all means to avoid harming our collegues in fate… Never mind missing the slot, we always watch for flocks before setting takeoff power and during the climb. Birds at high speed can be very dangerous indeed.

    That spiral figure on the spinner of the fans serves also the purpose to scare them away as it’s supposedly reminiscent of the eye of a prey bird.

    Almost all airports deploy bird repelling tactics. Gas (blank) canons, electronic noises, even trained falcons…

    The problem is that solar panels are pretty much mixed signals. Theories vary. Some claim they repel birds, others exactly the opposite, suggest that birds are attracted by the unusual brilliance or confuse them with water bodies.

      • Oh, yea! Spent quite a bit of time being entertained by this effect. Also, they will attack their reflection in outside vehicle mirrors and dark tinted windows.

  30. Damn nuisance mocking birds used to wake me up at 3 AM living in California. Were hard to hit with a pellet gun by street light. A shot gun was not appropriate to the neighborhood.

  31. In the UK, cats are considered to be wild animals, unlike dogs. This is underscored by law, in that a driver is required to report the killing of a dog to the police & a dog owner is responsible for paying for repairing any consequential damage to the car. Killing a cat whilst driving is just unfortunate. The cat owner does not pay if the driver swerves to avoid the cat & then crashes. Over the years, two of my cats have been killed by motor vehicles. My latest neutered tomcat is the most well fed & affectionate home body I’ve experienced & bloody useless at catching rodents. We have had to purchase this A24 from.

    As we live in the Chilterns , our skies are patrolled by red kites. They like dead, non poisoned rats.

  32. “It shall be a violation of this Act for any person to incidentally take a migratory bird as a result of a commercial activity…“

    Um…wouldn’t that make wind cuisinarts…er…windmills…problematic? As well as solar plants that use the mirrors? Don’t those “take” massive amounts of migratory birds and aren’t they commercial activities?

    Probably why the law didn’t go anywhere.

    • Sailorcurt ==> They will sell indulgences to wind power companies which will simply increase the cost of electricity.

      The bill didn’t go anywhere because it was only filed as an anti-Trump measure — and further it doesn’t resolve any of the issues regarding arbitrary enforcement and discriminatory enforcement. It makes the legal muddle even worse —

  33. I can’t remember who said it, but the whole purpose of socialism is to have so many laws that it is impossible for an average person to go through a day without breaking one of them.
    This then gives the government power over individuals. As long as you don’t create any problems for the commissars, they will ignore the fact that you are breaking laws. Become a problem for them, and you will go to jail.
    PS: The bigger the bribes that you pay, the more blind the commissars get.

  34. Just asking for a friend. If my friend whacked several mockingbirds that were destroying his tomato garden and he had been giving homegrown vine ripened tomatoes to several of his elderly and disabled neighbors and friends and he got caught by the feds for criminal offence of whacking a mockingbird, could his friends and neighbors also be charged in this ongoing crime? Would RICO apply?

    Again, I’m just asking for a friend.

    • Wow! There’s a black SUV parked in front of my house. Should I call my friend and tell him to flush his pellet gun down the toilet?

    • eyesonu ==> “Whacking” mockingbirds is a federal crime. They are Migratory Birds and protected under the MBTA.

      If one of your neighbors is a “True Bird Lover” they might report you to FWS and then you would be in trouble — MAYBE. The FWS arbitrarily enforces the MBTA — so if you are 1) a Trump Supporter you’re Ok this year (but watch out if the election goes the other way). 2) If you work for the petroleum industry, you’re at high risk.

      FWS relies on snitches to report on “bad industries” and “bad people”.

  35. Epilogue:

    Terrific response — mostly about CATS. WUWT is often a surprising forum for discussion. Two of the odd things that set off lots and lots of comments are: Cats and Coyotes.

    I’ve decided I will just have to write a full essay about CATS CATS CATS just to satisfy the obvious demand.

    Thank you for reading!

  36. What about the (bird) children?
    Isn’t it about time that it was declared mandatory that cats wear booties when outdoors to stop them killing?
    A repeat offender could wear lead-lined footwear to humanely stop their ravages.
    The owner’s responsibility means they would be liable if their cat was found outdoors without these life-saving booties.
    I repeat – what about the children?

    • jon2009 ==> My personal opinion is that all pet cats should be under the control of their owners at all times, just like we require for dogs, That translates to “in the house” or “confined to the owners yard”.

      No cat should ever be allowed to roam the neighborhood or countryside at will,

        • 2hotel9 ==> Not sure about the source of your amusement though….you think that it would impossible to have and enforce such an ordinance? Or you think we shouldn’t have such an ordinance?

          I was in the “pet” business many years. People who have purebred cats — Persians, Siamese, Maine Coon, Ragdoll, Bengal, Abyssinian and Sphynx — would never ever think of subjecting them to the dangers of uncontrolled access to the out of doors environment. These careful caring owners often set-up outdoor runs and play areas for their cats — usually repurposed chain-link dog runs with the addition of chain link on top as well. And with lots of climbing things and toys. In fair weather, these cat runs are available to the cats via a cat door.

          Humans have a very wide variety of pet animals — dogs, goats, pigs (pot-bellied being a favorite), lambs and sheep, birds,snakes, lizards, frogs, turtles and tortoises, often what others would consider farm=yard animals like fancy chickens, pigeons, doves. None (almost) would be allowed to roam free in your neighborhood. (Pigeons are “let out” to fly on nice days and return to their lofts (or coops).

          Except cats.

          I am planning a series of articles on this odd phenomenon.

          • As I said, good luck with that fantasy, I will enjoy watching you flail about helplessly against the crazy cat lady faction, who are 100% leftarded Democrat Party voters. I just kill the ferals discretely and move on with my life. That is the most merciful course of action.

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