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Mercury, Lead and Copper in Feathers and Excreta of Small Passerine Species in Relation to Foraging Guilds and Age of Feathers


In the present study excreta and feathers of five species of adult passerine birds from Montepulciano wetland (Siena, Italy) were assayed for trace elements between January and August 2006. Lead concentrations varied from 16.31 to 26.50 mg/kg and were found strictly related to the age of feathers. Copper levels were found to be high mainly in insectivorous birds (9.68 mg/kg) and were probably influenced by local use of copper-based agricultural fungicides. Mercury accumulation in feathers varied between species from 0.08 to 0.73 mg/kg. The role of feeding habits on trace elements levels in feathers and excreta is discussed.

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Correspondence to Claudio Leonzio.

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Leonzio, C., Bianchi, N., Gustin, M. et al. Mercury, Lead and Copper in Feathers and Excreta of Small Passerine Species in Relation to Foraging Guilds and Age of Feathers. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 83, 693 (2009).

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  • Heavy metals
  • Passerine birds
  • Feathers
  • Excreta
  • Copper-based agricultural fungicides