The Courant’s 08/23/08 “Best in Show” column featured a photo of a cat sitting on top of a birdhouse, entitled “Come On Out, Little Birdie.” I challenge the Hartford Courant to print a related photograph I took this year of six tiny chickadee nestlings that starved to death after their parent was killed by an outdoor cat.
When we invite birds to use a nestbox, we have a responsibility to help protect the contents from predation. Eggs and nestlings are defenseless. They cannot escape the hooked claws of an agile cat. A mother bird incubating her eggs or newborn featherless babies will be reluctant to leave them. Parents must feed growing babies every 15-30 minutes, and may overcome their fear of a waiting predator to do so.
A nestbox with a roof that overhangs the entrance by 2-5 inches, or a box mounted 6 feet or higher on a smooth metal pole with a wobbling baffle will deter most mammalian predators. For those who care to have birds successfully rear young in their birdhouse, there are more tips on deterring cat attacks at www.sialis.org/cats.htm
Bluebird trail monitor and Certified Environmental Professional
You cannot begin to preserve any species of animal unless you preserve the habitat in which it dwells. Disturb or destroy that habitat and you will exterminate the species as surely as if you had shot it. So conservation means that you have to preserve forest and grassland, river and lake, even the sea itself. This is vital not only for the preservation of animal life generally, but for the future existence of man himself—a point that seems to escape many people.
-Gerald Durrell, The Nature Conservancy
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