The Oriental White-eye And The Cats
About Oriental White-Eye:
These are tiny thumb-sized yellow coloured birds with pale grey undersides, wearing yellow bibs and have black eyes outlined with a white ring which look very conspicuous and give them a goggled look and their species name.
They seem to be very playful playing follow-the-leader and then hide and seek with the photographer. I say so because they remain in small groups of 4-7 and one of them gives a call and all of them fly off to some tree or bush easily hiding behind the leaves, never keeping still and hopping about on its branches. It is always a challenge to take their pictures.
They really enjoy having a bath in shallow water. They take turns in doing so while others keep watch for any sign of danger. When the coast is clear, one of them hops into the water head first, then it takes a dip followed by a splash then it shakes and finally hops off and the next one follows. This happens very quickly in only a few seconds.
These birds are pollinators, seed dispensers and insect eaters and are very important in the ecosystem.
In Yercaud, a hill station in South India, I noticed an empty nest in a big thorny rose bush. A lady came up and pointed to a white-eye. She further told me that all four of its chicks had been killed and eaten by two pet cats that the staff of a hotel nearby were keeping. The birds were wild and had chosen a very thorny and secure place as their nesting area. But the introduction of pet cats led to their decline.
I am not against wild cats but the domesticated and feral cats can do a lot of damage to wild birds and I have noticed that these feral cats are everywhere in India. It reminds me of the story about pet cat(s) that were responsible for the extinction of an entire species of flightless bird in a years time in New Zealand. I don’t know how true that story is, but these cats multiply fast and I think they are very capable of inflicting that kind of damage. I suggest that people should not release domestic cats in the wild.