Obvious Study of the Day: Cats Are a Main Cause of Bird Deaths

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Your precious house cat may be all sweet and cuddly when nestled up to you, but in the great outdoors, it’s a cold-blooded killer — of birds, that is.

And yes, scientists needed to conduct a study to figure this out. They could have just watched Looney Tunes!

While in the past wind turbines were blamed as the biggest menace to little birdies, researchers from the Smithsonian Institution and Towson University have made the (shocking) discovery that 80% of bird deaths in the Washington suburbs were attributed to predators — and our feline friends are responsible for almost half of those.

(More on NewsFeed: See why more than half of America’s pets are overweight.)

According to the American Bird Conservancy, up to 500 million birds are killed by cats each year, both the feral and pet variety, while 440,000 are killed by those dangerous turbines. And in some areas, the predation is so severe that the birds have stopped flourishing.

The Smithsonian/Towson study was the first of its kind (perhaps for obvious reasons), but its results have some researchers calling for the protection of the feathery creatures, especially because they are native to America, while cats are considered invasive species. In fact, Peter Marra of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute likens our furry friends to “gypsy moths and kudzu” (a climbing vine native to Japan). “They cause major ecological disruption,” Dr. Marra told The New York Times.

(More on TIME.com: See the top 10 invasive species)

But just as Sylvester the Cat was preconditioned to stalk its adorable nemesis, Tweety Bird, some people — like cat lovers — might argue that it’s in kitties’ predatory DNA to hunt species that are lower on the ecological food chain. As long as the pets don’t bring their spoils into the house to show off to their human companions. (via The New York Times)

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