The Use Of Wing Collections For Determining Mercury Levels In Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus)

Wing collections were used to determine mercury levels in bobwhite quail in Tennessee. Results of the assays indicated that the average mercury level in primary wing feathers was six times greater than the minimum acceptable limit established by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Further tests indicated that mercury levels in quail wing feathers were 24 times greater than those found in quail flesh. By comparison, mercury levels in quail were estimated to be safe for human consumption. The much higher mercury levels found in feathers, the consequent less margin for error in detection, and the ease of collecting and handling indicate that wing collections may be better for monitoring trends in mercury levels in bobwhite quail. Advantages, disadvantages, and cautions are discussed.

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