[va-richmond-general] Re: whippoorwill decline? cats?

  • From: "Bob Siegfried" <rcs5701@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <va-richmond-general@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2005 22:11:51 -0400

Just thought I would toss out there some information about bird declines
near development.  I have done a lot of review of the scientific literature
on this subject (one of the things I get to do for work), and while cats are
a big issue, other predators are also attracted to our homes - raccoons,
opossums, chipmunks, skunks and mice.  They like our garbage and our bird
seed.  The concentration of predators increases the likelihood that nearby
nesting birds will loose their eggs and young to predation.  Mice and
chipmunks are actually really hard on ground nesting birds with small eggs.
Researchers actually use small clay eggs in fake nests to test for
predation.  They match the tooth markings on the eggs to suspected
predators.   More recently researchers are actually monitoring individual
nests over time to gauge success and sources of failure such as predators.

I guess the lesson here is if we want to increase the success of nesting
birds in our residential landscapes, particularly those nesting on or near
the ground, we need to make our homes unattractive to the many potenial egg
predators out there.

PS.  The song sparrow that nested in my tall grass this year (which I
unwittingly mowed), is still around and probably nesting in a low bush.

Bob Siegfried

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