This information is taken from a study done at The University of Nebraska, Lincoln by Aaron M. Hildreth, Stephen M. Vantassel, and Scott E. Hygnstrom. The complete study can be found at http://extension.unl.edu/publications.
Feral cats are domestic cats that have gone wild or the offspring of existing feral cats. They cause great losses of native birds, small mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. They can also transmit diseases like rabies and toxoplasmosis, and carry ticks and fleas that could transmit other diseases.
Feral cats live throughout the United States in both rural and urban areas. They live any where they can find food, water, and suitable habitat. Feral cats can produce up to five litters per year, with two to ten kittens per litter. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that a pair of breeding cats and their offspring could produce over 400,000 cats in seven years.
There is an estimated 60 million feral cats in the U.S. alone. They are effective hunters and pose a serious threat to native wildlife, especially birds. Cats have been responsible for the extinction of at least 33 species of birds worldwide. Feral cats kill an estimated 480 million birds per year in th U.S.
Feral cats feeding on birds cost over $17 billion per year. A this cost is spread among bird watchers, hunters, and bird rearers. They will also kill free range chickens and other domestic birds. Even if well-fed they still prey on native species. A study in Sweden showed that well-fed house-based cats diet was 15 to 90 percent native prey.
Many people feel feral cats should not be managed. However, most scientist, wildlife managers, and public health officials believe their impact on wildlife and the risk of disease transmission, justifies their management.
The best management tool is proper pet ownership. Keep only as many cats as you can care for and keep them in the house. If you feel you must let them out have them neutered. If you have unwanted cats give them to animal control or the humane society, do not release unwanted cats in rural areas, vacant lots or alleys.
An addition way to address the problem is integrated pest management. This includes habitat modification, exclusion, frightening devices, repellents, trapping, shooting, and fertility control.
Habitat modification is reducing the availability of food, water, and shelter.
Exclusion is the use of fencing and netting to keep cats from habitat and food sources.
Frightening devices. The only two that have proven effective with cats are motion-activated sprinklers and dogs.
Repellents for cats include anise oil, methyl nonyl ketone, thymol, benzyldiethy, and methyl ammonium saccharide.
Trapping can be used to remove cats from a specific area. Feral cats should only be handled by trained individuals or professionals.
shooting is an efficient method to reduce populations fo cats in certain area. Shooting is normally not allowed within city limits.
Fertility control is Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release. TNVR is a humane and nonlethal method to reduce populations of feral cats. However, studies have shown that more than 70% of a population of feral cats must be spayed or neutered before the population will decline. There may be some charges from vets for this service. In my area some vets will do this free of charge on a limited basis.
Feral cats are invasive and pose a threat to wildlife and public health. An integrated approach to control of feral cat populations is best.
Make sure you manage your pets and are not part of the problem.
Yes, no, sometimes, not always, some do and some don’t.
As you can tell from that statement Blue Jay migration is somewhat of a mystery. Lets look at the different subspecies and their range map and see the reason for some of the answers.
There are four subspecies that are generally accepted, though some of the variations are subtle and hard to determine with a casual observation.
- The northern Blue Jay, the largest subspecies has fairly dull plumage. Blue is rather pale. Found in Canada and the northern USA.
- The coastal Blue Jay, mid-sized and vivid blue. They are found in the coastal USA from North Carolina to Texas, except south Florida.
- Interior Blue Jay, mid-sized, very dark blue on mantel contrasting cleanly with very white undersides. Found in inland USA and overlapping with northern Blue Jay in far northern part of range.
- Florida Blue Jay is the smallest of the subspecies, they are fairly dull with pale blue. They are found in southern Florida.
As you can see from the map the northern Blue Jays may have to do some type of migration due to weather and food supply. This may be a very short migration or the may be a much longer migrations as can be observed by the large flocks moving up and down the east coast.
Blue Jays migrate during the daytime in loose flocks of from five to many hundred birds. You will normally find them in mixed woodlands with oaks and beeches. They adapt well to human activity and are often found in parks and residential areas.
They feed both in trees and on the ground eating acorns, beech mast, weed seeds, grain, fruits and berries, small invertebrates, peanuts, bread, meat, and anything I put in my bird feeders. They seem to like the tray feeders best. They also make full use of my garden bird baths.
As we said their migration is not fully understood. Some birds winter in all parts of the Blue Jay’s range, and some birds may migrate one year and not the next. Some times whole families will migrate other times it may be only individuals. Young Blue Jays are more likely to migrate than older ones.
Here at my back yard in North Carolina I have Blue Jays all year. In winter it seems there are more than in summer, which may be because there is less natural food or it may be that some migrates have arrived.