The concentration of 11 trace elements (Mg, Al, Mn, Cu, Zn, Rb, Mo, Cd, Ba, Hg and Pb) and sulfur in feathers of pigeons and ravens was determined by ICPMS after wet digestion of the sample. Pigeon feathers were collected from five habitats: rural, industrial, urban, natural area and from a controlled environment, and raven feathers from the former two habitats. The distribution along the feather shaft was studied and for most elements it was found that the concentration increased from the quill towards the distal end of the feather. There were statistically significant differences in the concentration of trace elements between pigeons from different environments and between ravens and pigeons from similar habitats. It was found that for most elements the lowest concentration was in feathers from the control population and the highest in the industrial habitat. In general, higher concentrations were found in the omnivore raven feathers than in the granivore pigeons. Sulfur, that is abundant in keratin, was found to be a potential internal standard as its concentration presented the lowest variation among different samples. Thus, feathers from common birds, collected from the ground, can serve as bio-indicators of environmental levels of trace elements.
- Environmental pollution
- Trace elements