What You Can Do to Minimize the Threat to Birds from Pesticides

Buying organic food can help minimize pesticide use nationally. Photo Microsoft

Buying organic food can help minimize pesticide use nationally. Photo Microsoft


While pesticide residues on food are carefully monitored to reduce exposure to humans, monitoring of the effects of food crop pesticides on birds and other wildlife remains inadequate and poorly understood. Purchasing organically-grown food ensures that your consumption will not lead to bird deaths from these chemicals. Asking your supermarket to stock more organic produce where their selection is inadequate is a further step you can take.


Before using pesticides, try other alternatives such as sealing access points to your home, or rat or mouse traps in the case of rodent problems. If you must buy pesticides, follow label instruction carefully. Only dispose of pesticides or pesticide containers at hazardous waste collection sites. You may have diazinon in your house (Spectracide, Gardentox etc.) though it is no longer sold because of its harmful effects on humans and birds. Disposing carefully of unused diazinon is an important step to protect your family and wildlife in your neighborhood. If you hire a pest control officer, ask about your alternatives and express your concern over possible bird impacts.


Each year local authorities aerially spray millions of gallons of insecticides to kill mosquitoes due to pressure from their residents and misguided notions that such chemicals can prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus. These chemicals can be particularly hazardous to birds as well as household pets. Try to avoid having any standing water in your back yard that attracts breeding mosquitoes. This includes even small amounts of water trapped in old tires, plant pots, buckets, etc. If you have bird baths, these must be emptied daily to prevent mosquito eggs hatching. Fish ponds can be treated with biological agents that stop mosquitoes laying eggs.


If you find a live bird which you think might be suffering from pesticide exposure, contact a federally permitted wildlife rehabilitator. The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) can help you find one in your area. If you find a dead bird that you suspect is a victim of pesticide poisoning, contact the nearest U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement office.