Avitrol, manufactured and marketed by Avitrol Corp, Tulsa, OK, is an avian toxicant used as a chemical frightening agent in pigeons, starlings, blackbirds, sparrows, crows and house sparrows. The active ingredient, 4-aminopyridine, is an acute oral toxicant, which acts on the central and motor nervous system. The product is registered as a restricted-use pesticide by EPA and approved for use in all states, although only through licensed pest control operators.
Avitrol is toxic to all vertebrate species, not just birds. Its action on the motor nervous system usually causes behaviors characteristic of an epileptic seizure or convulsion. Birds eating treated bait will be affected in a manner that, varying by species, will artificially cause them to emit distress and alarm cries and visual displays used by their species when they are frightened or injured. This may include flying erratically, vocalizing, trembling, dilation of the pupils and other symptoms consistent with the loss of motor control. This behavior can frighten the flock and cause it to leave the site. See a USA Today report of a recent incident at the Houston George Bush International Airport (IAH).
In laboratory testing, if the dose is lethal, death will usually occur within an hour following administration. If the dose is sub-lethal, there will be a recovery period which may be as short as 4 to 5 hours. Surviving birds typically have no lasting effects from 4-aminopyridine.
An alternative to Avitrol poisoning is a contraceptive program to control reproduction. OvoControl P can manage pigeons in a safe and humane manner without the risk of dead or dying birds. The number of birds in treated flocks declines through attrition. See the website, ovocontrol.com for further information and details.