Lead in tissues of mallard ducks dosed with two types of lead shot

  • Mack T. Finley
  • Michael P. Dieter
  • Louis N. Locke


Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) were sacrificed one month after ingesting one number 4 all-lead shot or one number 4 lead-iron shot. Livers, kidneys, blood, wingbones, and eggs were analyzed for lead by atomic absorption.

Necropsy of sacrificed ducks failed to reveal any of the tissue lesions usually associated with lead poisoning in waterfowl. Lead levels in ducks given all-lead shot averaged about twice those in ducks given lead-iron shot, reflecting the amount of lead in the two types of shot. Lead in the blood of ducks dosed with all-lead shot averaged 0.64 ppm, and 0.28 ppm in ducks given lead-iron shot. Lead residues in livers and kidneys of females given all-lead shot were significantly higher than in males. In both dosed groups, lead levels in wingbones of females were about 10 times those in males, and were significantly correlated with the number of eggs laid after dosage. Lead levels in contents and shells of eggs laid by hens dosed with all-lead shot were about twice those in eggs laid by hens dosed with lead-iron shot. Eggshells were found to best reflect levels of lead in the blood.

Our results indicate that mallards maintained on a balanced diet and dosed with one lead shot may not accumulate extremely high lead levels in the liver and kidney. However, extremely high lead deposition may result in the bone of laying hens after ingesting sublethal amounts of lead shot as a result of mobilization of calcium from the bone during eggshell formation.


Lead Level Lead Poisoning Lead Shot Lead Intoxication Mallard Duck 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mack T. Finley
    • 1
  • Michael P. Dieter
    • 1
  • Louis N. Locke
    • 2
  1. 1.U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServicePatuxent Wildlife Research CenterLaurel
  2. 2.U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceNational Fish and Wildlife Health LaboratoryMadison

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