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When pollution occurs in a non-aquatic environment, some of the first species observed to be affected are birds. This usually because they feed on organisms that may have directly come into contact with the pollutant, of course birds can also come into direct contact with these pollutants. Pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, nematicides, molluscicides, rodenticides, fungicides or repellents) are some of the most commonly used toxins. Although they have several benefits, they are toxic to several species including humans.

Chemicals to avoid around birds
  • Acephate
  • Aldicarb
  • Azinphos-methyl
  • Bendiocarb
  • Brodifacoum (rat poison)
  • Carbaryl (Sevin)
  • Carbofuran
  • Chlordane
  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Diazinon
  • Dicofol
  • Dicrotophos
  • Dieldrin
  • Dimethoate
  • Dinoseb
  • DNOC (dinitro-o-cresol)
  • Endrin
  • Famphur
  • Fenitrothion
  • Fenthion
  • Heptachlor
  • Isofenphos
  • Lindane
  • Malathion
  • Methoxychlor
  • Methyl parathion
  • Monocrotophos
  • Paraquat
  • Parathion
  • Phorate
  • Phosphamidon
  • Trichlorofon
Safer Alternatives
  • 2, 4-D
  • Nematodes
  • Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis)
  • Corn gluten meal
  • Glyphosate
  • Vinegar
  • Insecticidal soaps and oils
  • Ladybugs, lacewings, wasps, and other predatory insects
  • Pyrethrum
  • Rotenone
  • Traps and species-specific baits
Tips for Bird-Friendly Gardening

As you look for solutions to problems in your yard, here are some tips for keeping your lawn and garden safer for birds.

  • Don’t Fumigate: If nothing else, avoid large-scale spraying of any chemicals in your yard, even those considered organic or nontoxic. Birds’ respiratory systems are far more sensitive than ours, and they can easily be harmed by fumes.
  • Target Source: Instead of dispersing chemicals over the entire yard, target problems more directly with a lower-impact solution. For example, carefully spraying or painting herbicide directly onto the leaves of a problem weed will be less toxic than applying a weed control product to the whole yard.
  • Use Fewer Products: Focus on keeping your grass and garden healthy using compost, rich soil, proper mowing practices, and smarter plant choices, rather than fighting off problems with chemicals.
  • Remember the Ecosystem: Even nontoxic products, such as vinegar to kill weeds, can harm worms and insects in the soil, which then affects the birds that eat them. Whenever you approach a problem in your yard, consider the entire system, from insects to water runoff to native habitats. As much as possible, make sure your solutions touch only the problem, and not the world around it.