A systematic field study of a black-billed magpie (P. pica) population revealed that magpies and red-tailed hawks (B. jamaicensis) were killed by famphur (= famophos, Warbex) used as a pour-on to control cattle warbles (Hypoderma sp.). Magpie mortality began on treatment day and continued for more than 3 mo. (38 found death); mortality peaked between Day 5 an Day 13. Estimates of magpie density (based on transects) decreased in both the control and treatment areas, but the decrease was greater in the treatment area. A red-tailed hawk found dead on Day 10 had eaten a famphur-contaminated magpie. Another red-tailed hawk was found alive but immobilized, and a 3rd died outside the study area. Brain cholinesterse (ChE) activity was 70-92% depressed in all dead birds examined; famphur residues were detected in all 17 magpies and the 2 hawks analyzed. The amount of famphur obtained by the dead magpies was estimated at 5.2-6.1 mg/kg (based on residue concentrations in the gizzard), which was above the acute oral LD50 for several bird species. The cow hair portion (12%) of the pooled gizzard contents from 13 other dead magpies produced extremely high famphur residues (4600 ppm). The residues persisted on cattle hair for more than 90 days post-treatment. Magpie populations in the far western states declined between 1968 and 1979, which corresponds with widespread use of famphur, although other factors may be involved.
Additional publication details
Organophosphate insecticide (famphur) topically applied to cattle kills magpies and hawks