Birdlife is thriving in parts of Tamahere as residents plant more and a greater variety of trees but a growing number of cats is likely to be threatening the resurgent bird population.
The gully restoration forum held recently in Tamahere showed that the area’s gullies are an increasingly important Waikato ecosystem and the return of tui and other native birds gives a wildlife seal of approval to residents’ efforts.
But studies show that if left to roam uncontrolled the domestic moggy can cut a swathe through bird numbers.
Cats routinely travel more than 2ha from home, often snacking on wildlife as they go. But putting on belled collars or those that emit a sonic warning as well as keeping them in at night can significantly reduce the number of birds they kill on their journeys, according to a recent study.
The study, by Otago University’s Zoology Department and published in the Australian journal Widlife Research, found that over six weeks cats not wearing a collar caught 378 animals, including 82 birds. When the cats wore bells, they caught only 41 birds by comparison.
The nesting season is in full swing and many vulnerable baby birds are in nests or taking their first, shaky flights. Extra vigilance of cats now will pay in greater birdlife in Tamahere.
New Zealand is home to a number of forest birds that live nowhere else on Earth and at one time the land pulsed with an almost deafening sound of native birds. Read more here.
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