Microtrash

The term microtrash generally refers to small items of human trash consisting of things like coins, bottle caps, beverage tabs, nuts, bolts screws and glass shards. Wildlife that have a propensity to scavenge objects for sources of calcium, such as the California condor, are prone to collecting and eating microtrash.

Depending on the type of microtrash consumed, wildlife can exhibit symptoms including abdominal perforations, infections and heavy metal poisoning. Condors have been observed collecting and consuming microtrash in very high levels, with one instance where a pound of coins, bottle caps, metallic objects and glass were found in the gizzard of a condor fledgling. Microtrash ingestion accounts for almost 75% of nest failures in the California condor and because many of these items contain lead, microtrash is a likely source of exposure to lead for scavengers.