Cats and Blackbirds
One of my readers Trisha recently made an amusing observation about an encounter between one of her cats and a baby Blackbird. Trisha has given me permission to quote her here:
I have just spent the morning watching one of the strangest sights I have ever seen.
I live at Queanbeyan, (near the racecourse) with three cats. They are happy to stalk the sparrows and mynas – and I let them – but for some reason Crested Pigeons and Blackbirds are not of great interest.
This morning there was a great cacophony of bird alarms, so I went out to check. There was a baby blackbird in a tree with the outside cat looking up at it. The baby came down to ground level (the blackbirds all like to eat the dry cat food) and of course the cat pounced.
I raced out with my trusty water pistol in time to see the cat take the baby by a leg out into the driveway where the parents were twittering and put it on the ground. As it did so it looked up as if to say “Will you all just shut up!” and then walked away back to his favourite morning sleeping spot.
Mum and Dad both came down and chivvied the baby back to the food bowl and shoved a few bits of cat food down its gob, and then back to the nest. Doing this meant that they had to walk past the cat! Yet, peace returned to the neighbourhood.
In regards to cats – I get annoyed when they are all branded as murderers and cold-hearted killers. They are basically doing what a shark in the ocean does, and what any other predator does. However, I also believe that cat-owners have a responsibility to try and create a balanced environment. My cats are collared, which includes 4 bells plus a leap alarm. They are locked in sundown in winter, and 7pm in summer. They are let out at 8.30am, and invariably come back in around 9.30, and spent most of the day on my bed. If I am not home, they are not outside.
Anyway – I enjoy my birds, blue-tongue lizards, cats and possums and there is not a lot of drama in their co-existence. Maybe I’m just lucky.
What an amazing incident!
I’d like to thank Trisha for permission to publish her comments in this article. It is good to hear of a responsible cat owner. If only all cat owners were so.
- Common Blackbirds – my most popular article.
- Do Blackbirds Swoop? Dealing with aggressive bird behaviour.
- A bit on the nose – an amusing encounter with a Red Wattlebird.
Here in the midwestern United States, feral cats cause major harm to wild birds and there are many studies on the growing problem. Unfortunatley, around here people are prone to feeding bunches of roaming cats that breed like mad. On that note, however, it is never the cats that are at fault for being themselves but the people who own them. I am glad that you monitor your cats although bells don’t work if the cat is stalking a nestling.
All of our towns and cities, like most towns and cities the world over, have feral populations of cats. These cause a great deal of damage to the native fauna where they live.
A more destructive element in rural areas of Australia is the wild feral cat population. These cats live far removed from human habitation, and they are huge – up to nearly twice the size of a domestic cat – very cunning and ferocious hunters. They, along with introduced foxes have been responsible for wiping out huge numbers of birds and mammals over the last two centuries. They may even be responsible for the extinction of some species. I’ll be writing more about this in the near future in a series of articles about invading species in Australia.
I hope someone will explain to the woman the bacteria in a cat’s mouth is deadly to birds and small animals.
Scooter is quite correct in this comment. For more nformation and how to deal with the problem see
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Comparing cats to sharks as ‘just predators acting naturally’ misses the point. Sharks generally hunt in areas where they occur naturally, and take species which have adapted over many thousands of years, to the the presence of sharks. Cats on the other hand, are an introduced predator and take animals that have no defence and whos numbers are devestated by cats. For this reason, feral cats are a root cause of many extinctions of small mammals in Australia. Sharks are not kn own to have caused extinctions.
Thanks for making some excellent points, Kate.