For all their prowess—can you imagine flying over 12,000 miles each year like a Bobolink?—birds are no match for the insidious chemicals used in many pesticide products.
Rat poisons kill raptors like Swainson's Hawk, owls, and eagles, while weed-killers and insecticides can be lethal to songbirds, from Ruby-throated Hummingbird to Golden-winged Warbler.
Aside from our ethical commitment to conserve birds, they provide billions of dollars' worth of insect and rodent control, plant pollination, and seed dispersal. Some studies are finding that pesticides actually reduce agricultural yields by decimating the birds, bats, butterflies, and beneficial invertebrates that keep pests in check.
We're fighting to block or restrict dangerous pesticides and toxic chemicals in homes and garden and in agriculture. And we insist that regulatory decisions be grounded in cutting-edge science and robust monitoring.
Our Pesticides Program is an important component of ABC's efforts to “eliminate threats.”
A 2015 study by American Bird Conservancy and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has found bird- and bee-killing insecticides in nearly every food eaten by the nation’s Senators, Representatives, and others who dine in the cafeterias of the United States Congress. Read the report.
One of our early pesticide campaigns was instrumental in ending the use of the organophosphate monocrotophos, a powerful poison deadly to birds and also to people. In 1996 this pesticide had killed more than 20,000 Swainson’s Hawks (shown) that ingested monocrotophos-poisoned grasshoppers in Argentina.
In the 1990s, ABC led a coalition of 50 groups to block use of the super-toxic carbamate insecticide, carbofuran, which had killed millions of waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors including Golden Eagle (shown), grassland birds, and songbirds. Finally, in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the manufacturer’s last-ditch effort to keep carbofuran on the market.
Our 2013 study on neonicotinoids, now the most widely used insecticides on Earth, found that these substances are lethal to birds: A single seed coated with a neonic can kill a songbird, such as Field Sparrow (shown). Since then, we have helped persuade retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s to phase out neonic-treated plant products from their stores. Read Report.
ABC has been instrumental in the cancellation of more than a dozen pesticides that are particularly harmful to birds, including carbofuran, fenthion, chlorfenapyr, ethyl parathion, and a suite of rodent poisons. For example, following years of pressure from ABC and other groups, in 2014 the maker of d-CON agreed to pull its toxic brodifacoum-based pesticides from retail shelves–a great victory for Red-tailed Hawks (shown) and other raptors.