The case of the poisoned songbirds
Eurekalert.org - Thu 27 Jun 02:36 GMT

Researchers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Wildlife Investigations Laboratory present their results from a toxicological investigation into a mortality event involving songbirds in a new publication in Environmental Toxicology and Chemi…

The case of the poisoned songbirds

  Researchers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Wildlife Investigations Laboratory present their results from a toxicological investigation into a mortality event involving songbirds in a new publication in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

  The day prior to the incident, the city had made a drench application of imidacloprid, a pesticide synthetically derived from nicotine, to the base of trees that lined the street.

  Researchers at the Wildlife Investigation Laboratory were notified of the incident and conducted a postmortem investigation on the dead songbirds, which were identified as American goldfinches.

  The cause of death was determined to be imidacloprid poisoning likely due to the ingestion of fallen elm tree seeds contaminated during the drench application.

  Lead author, Krysta Rogers, and her colleagues noted that "The mortality event investigated in the present study highlights a previously unidentified risk of drench application for imidacloprid.

  If these food items were contaminated during the drench application, they would be highly toxic to animals when ingested."

  The authors recommend that "drench applications not occur during seed drop to minimize the risk of exposure to animals that consume fallen seeds and that mitigation measures could be taken to prevent small animals from accessing areas treated with the pesticide, at a minimum" Finally the authors encourage integrated pest management over the prophylactic use of pesticides as the ideal.