Birds of Prey pp 229-250 | Cite as

Toxicology of Birds of Prey

  • Judit SmitsEmail author
  • Vinny Naidoo


We review poisoning problems most commonly encountered in birds of prey in different regions of the world. It includes an update on the current status of the historical persistent organochlorine pollutants. The information is based on peer-reviewed scientific literature, plus ornithology reports, conference proceedings and appropriate websites. We discuss impacts of the second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides, insecticides, heavy metals and pharmaceuticals, on raptor populations in different regions of the world. Poisoning in raptors tends to have unique patterns depending upon cultural, social, economic and agricultural practices in specific global regions, pressures that can change over time. We discuss the infamous, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that singlehandedly caused the extirpation of several species of Gyps vultures on the entire Indian subcontinent. This class of pharmaceutical continues to poison primarily scavenging raptors, whereas the anticholinesterase insecticides and rodenticides affect mostly predatory raptors. As long as lead is used by hunters everywhere in the world, raptors will be poisoned by ingesting lead fragments. We report on the more recent exposure to brominated flame retardants which have not yet caused population impacts. We conclude with a synopsis of the most problematic toxicants threatening the long-term survival of raptorial species on a global scale.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecosystem & Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Biomedical Research Centre, Faculty of Veterinary ScienceUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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