A new video study of how feral cats affect the endangered Hawaiian petrel has shown disturbing results. According to the American Bird Conservancy, 14 nesting sites were monitored with nighttime video - these nocturnal birds nest in burrows - and eight sites were actively stalked by feral cats. In one disturbing sequence, a cat waited for more than an hour at a burrow entrance to snatch a chick as soon as it emerged.
This study confirms the effects feral cats have on these birds corroborates other evidence of predation. By analyzing the videos, it is hoped that new measures to protect the birds can be developed. Because these petrels take longer to reach sexual maturity and have difficulty replacing lost mates, it is even more important to study how adult birds are affected at nests in order to protect the breeding population.
Photo © Valentina Storti