City birds more toxic than country cousins

Toxic industrial pollutants contaminate bird eggs in Australia’s major eastern cities at levels seven to nine times higher than those in inland areas.

One of the most comprehensive analyses attempted in Australia on pollutants and their build up in bird eggs revealed widespread contamination from a range of environmentally hazardous man-made pollutants. These came from the use of pesticides, flame retardants and cooling agents, and by industrial incineration.

The findings raise questions about potential impacts on bird breeding success and about the accumulation of such toxins in predators higher up the food chain.

While levels found in Australian ibis eggs are not as bad as in other parts of the world, the levels were much higher in urban centres compared with those detected at inland wetlands, potentially posing fertility problems for ibis and ramifications for predators of ibis.

Read more at UNSW