Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Mercury contamination in Annas hummingbirds

June 27, 2017

Heavy metal contamination (n=17 metals) of feather and tissue samples from live and deceased Anna's hummingbirds (Calypte anna) was evaluated. Feathers taken from live birds are low in sample weight, therefore a novel method was used in feather sample preparation. Feather samples were then analyzed utilizing an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) assay. In addition, ICP-MS was used to measure heavy metal concentrations in feather and tissue samples from salvaged hummingbird carcasses. Iron, zinc, selenium and mercury concentrations were most commonly elevated in body feathers from live birds with mercury being the metal most likely to be found in elevated concentrations. Because of this, we conducted additional analysis for mercury using atomic absorption spectometry, and this is the mercury data available in this dataset. A strong correlation between total mercury concentrations in feathers and in pectoral muscle was found suggesting that sampling feathers from live hummingbirds may prove a validated, useful, non-lethal sampling method for this species in the wild.

These data support the following publication: Nicole A. Mikoni, Robert Poppenga, Joshua T. Ackerman, Janet Foley, Jenny Hazlehurst, Gthrum Purdin, Linda Aston, Sabine Hargrave, Karen Jelks, Lisa A. Tell, Trace element contamination in feather and tissue samples from Annas hummingbirds, Ecological Indicators, Volume 80, September 2017, Pages 96-105, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.04.053.

Related Content