Many reasons for decline of birds
Sir, I write regarding unaccountable omissions in the article titled ‘Care needed around nests during breeding season’ (The Oban Times, April 13).
We, the public, it seems, needed ‘reminding’ about the vulnerability of birds’ nests in spring. According to Andy Turner, of Scottish Natural Heritage, and Ian Francis of the RSPB, tree felling, building work, hedge trimming, blocking holes in houses and so on should be postponed until after the end of the nesting season (date?) because ‘many of our garden bird species are declining’.
It was also observed that ‘ Dogs can be a risk if not under control’. How true. A dog roaming around uncontrolled, though an increasingly uncommon sight, can find the odd ground nester and maybe eat its eggs. It is odd, though, that dogs, who are not given much freedom to roam, are not renowned for bringing home dead birds and are not great tree climbers, come in for criticism and yet cats don’t even get a mention.
It is especially odd when you go to the RSPB website and find that it is saying ‘The most recent figures from the Mammal Society estimates that the UK’s cats catch up to 275 million prey items a year, of which 55 million are birds.’ That’s right - 55 million birds a year and that is just domestic cats, so who knows what the substantial feral cat population is slaughtering. After all, they have to kill to survive – no tinned stuff for them if they miss the birdie.
It is surprising, too, that they don’t mention the widespread use of pesticides, herbicides and nitrogen fertilisers on farms and gardens, creeping urbanisation, the drainage of marshes and the scarcity of hedges in the increasingly monocultural agri/forestry UK landscape all of which has led to a 45 per cent drop in all insect life over the past 40 years.
Declining insect numbers are the source of the drop in bird numbers and it isn’t just birds - it is many other animal groups as well. Perhaps Andy Turner and Ian Francis would be better off aiming their warnings at the Scottish and UK governments to form a better strategy as we undergo our uncoupling from EU diversity legislation rather than reminding us that birds nest in spring. Peter Isaacson, Coll.