Coyotes are bird's best friends, according to ecologists who have studied how these animals keep smaller predators such as cats in check. Kevin Crooks of the University of California at Santa Cruz and Michael Soule of the Wildlife Project in Hotchkiss, Colorado, surveyed enclaves of land around San Diego. Areas visited by coyotes had fewer small predators, such as racoons, skunks and cats, but more native birds. Elsewhere, small predators were common and birds were rarer. "The absence of the large predator releases the smaller ones to become both more active and more numerous," explains Soule ( Nature , Vol 400, p563).
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