They are readily available on store shelves, used on everything from produce to pets. But many pesticides have harmful, even deadly, impacts.

Thousands of Swainson's Hawks were found dead in agricultural fields in Argentina in the mid-1990s. When the mystery was solved, a commonly used pesticide was identified as the culprit.

It's just one example of pesticides marketed as “safe” later being deemed deadly. A current example is neonicotinoids, or “neonics,” now the most-used pesticides on Earth.

Neonics are contributing to die-offs of honeybees. They are also so deadly to birds that a single neonic-coated seed can kill a songbird. Birds that frequent agricultural fields, like Bobolink, are particularly at risk.

Rats and Raptors

The rat poison d-CON is another example. It was long ago discovered to be deadly to predators, like hawks and owls. These raptors die after eating rodents sickened by the poison.

It took many years of advocacy and legal action to convince the maker to pull the worst of these products from retail shelves. This victory finally occurred in 2014.

Reducing Pesticides' Risk to Birds

When ABC was formed in 1994, “fearlessness” was one of the ideals that inspired us. Taking on bad actors in the corporate world is not easy, but success is possible — and necessary to prevent the needless deaths of birds and other wildlife.

We continue to fight the worst pesticides, including pushing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to require more review of dangerous chemicals and more accountability for pesticide manufacturers.


  • A groundbreaking ABC report showed the deadly connection between neonics and birds.
  • A new study revealed that more than 90 percent of foods in Congressional dining halls contain bird- and  bee-killing insecticides. Read more.
  • Pesticides have been found as the leading cause of population declines in grassland birds.


  • Avoid the use of pesticides in your home and garden.
  • Take action: Our easy-to-use alert system enables you to speak out for birds that need help now.
  • Fuel our fight against deadly pesticides: Donate!