Effects on birds of an aerial application of fenthion, a potent organophosphorus cholinesterase (ChE)-inhibiting insecticide, were assessed on four study sites 1.8 to 3.6 km2 in size. These sites were located within 121.5 km2 of wet meadows treated with 47 g of fenthion (AI) per ha in ultralow- volume formulation. Assessment methods were searches for sick or dead birds, measurements of brain ChE activity in specimens found dead or collected alive at different time intervals, and counts of bird populations. After treatment, 99 birds and 15 mammals were found sick or dead; 106 of these were on one site. Brain ChE activity in dead birds was depressed sufficiently to indicate that death was caused by an anti-ChE substance. Brain ChE activity in three common bird species collected alive showed the greatest reduction 2 days postspray. Two of these species had ChE activity that was still significantly (P<0.05) depressed 15 days postspray. Bird populations declined most where mortality was heaviest. Fenthion sprayed for mosquito control was life threatening to many birds inhabiting treated meadows.
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Effects on birds of fenthion aerial application for mosquito control