It's well known of course that cats can catch and eat birds, but how do they pull it off? I'm mighty impressed cause it seems to me that birds should have no problems escaping. Do they attack while the bird is busy pulling a wiorm out of the ground? Do they attack the nest? I'm guessing that their sneaking skill comes into play, but even so it still seems hard considering how close they must get without being detected.

I'm guessing that the first strike is more important when hunting birds. They can't really play with birds like they do with rodents. So what do they do with the first strike? Do they kill the bird? Break it's wing? Pin it to the ground?

Having owned cats and observed them I have noticed that when my particular hunters caught a bird it would be by waiting in ambush. I also watched one of my cats jump and catch a bird mid-air when it flew close to the ground.

Domestic cats do indeed play with birds like they do with rodents. The stunned bird usually cannot take off straight away, occassionally going into what appears to be a form of shock or is injured in the capture. A fortunate few escape providing they are not significantly injured.

I think the simple answer is, 'with practise, and lots of patience'.

Play behaviour in young predators equips them for catching a variety of prey, and to my horror my own cat is an exceptional catcher of song birds. I'm fine with mice, but cats in the UK kill some 2 million song birds a year, which is terrible, but they can and do play on the bird's shock, tossing them around with them as they would a mouse.

Having had ducks arrive to nest on my pond, my cat has now been installed with a ringing bell around its neck. I hope it works.

Jim Caryl - We also tried that. I hope it works better for you than us.

I've been trying to encourage my cat to catch the mice around my compost bin, but he occasionally brings down a bird as well. I've never had any luck with the bells on his collar, he just learns how to walk silently! I'm told you need at least two bells to be effective.

Cats are indeed ambush predators; remember those Nature Docos with lions stalking the zebra? Leopards are so ambush-oriented that when a spotted by a troupe of monkeys, the whole lot of them will come and watch, never letting it get close enough to make a kill, until it goes away again.

I've seen my cat leap out of a tree above my lawn into the middle of a flock of sparrows. Must have been 2 metres, but he got one. I rescued it:)