Crist ha ressuscitat!
Last year, Luke Mullins published an intriguing piece in The Washingtonian about one naturalist’s jihad against feral cats in the District: “Apocalypse Meow.” The article is informative in covering the “scandal” of Nico Dauphiné‘s vigilantism and the subsequent debate concerning homeless felines. The situation deals with a serious issue; birders know well what a menace domestic (or feral) cats are to songbirds. There is no “natural” established, stable balance of life in suburbia. One ought not facilely to compare a house cat on the loose to predators in the wilderness that provide a beneficial “thinning” service to the species that they target. Of course, survival of the fittest holds even in Shady Acre Estates with Henry on the prowl, but few people truly subscribe to neighborhood Darwinism. We do not care about biological efficiency as much as the treasures that nature offers. If we count cats as natural actors in the ecology of a backyard, then so must we count the Dauphinés of the world who wish to protect their oases of bird feeders and baths for the species of their fancy. It comes down to a form of symbiosis. We provide the birds food, water, and shelter, and they provide us with beauty, relaxation, and entertainment. Hence, we are interested in maximizing the diversity and quantity of avian visitors to our yards, and we’ll damn well fight some rabid rat killer to maintain our environment as we want it!
Even if you do not care about the birder / cat sympathizer issue, Mullins’ article is worth a visit just for the accompanying graphic.