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Parathion(phosphorothioic acid O, O-diethyl O-[4-nitrophenyl] ester) is a broad spectrum organophosphorus insecticide, used on a variety of crops and occasionally for mosquito control, and is highly toxic to birds (Smith 1987). Intentional poisoning with parathion is reported to have killed more than 8000 red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus), common grackles (Quiscalus quiscula), brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater) and European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in two separate instances (Stone et al. 1984). Use of parathion on wheat fields has resulted in the mortality of about 1600 Canada geese (Branta canadensis) and other waterfowl in one instance (White et al. 1982) and about 200 Canada geese in another (Flickinger et al. 1991). More than 200 laughing gulls (Larus atricilla) died near cotton fields treated with parathion (White et al. 1979). Secondary poisoning of raptors resulting from the consumption of prey exposed to parathion, has been reported experimentally and in the field. Stone et al. (1984) found two dead red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis), a Cooper's hawk (Accipiter cooperii) and an American kestrel (Falco sparverius) that had fed on blackbirds killed by parathion. One of four American kestrels died after being fed cricket frogs (Acris crepitans) that had been exposed to 10ppm parathion for 96 hr (Fleming et al. 1982). The Mississippi kite (Ictinia mississippensis) is highly insectivorous (Brown and Amadon 1968) and is thus subject to secondary poisoning resulting from consumption of insects exposed to pesticides. I report here an instance of secondary parathion poisoning in wild Mississippi kites.
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Parathion poisoning of Mississippi kites in Oklahoma