The purpose of this experiment was to determine the effects of Aroclor 1242, a mixture of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), on plumage characteristics and molt in the American kestrel, Falco sparverills. Several characteristics of plumage. including color and molt schedule, are modulated by hormonal signals and hence may be modified by endocrine-active contaminants. If so, the functions of plumage (e.g. communication for mating or territorial defense) may be compromised by exposure to such compounds. Captive American kestrels were fed Aroclor 1242 at 0. 6.0. and 60.0 ppm (n = 6 males and 6 females per treatment) mixed in their normal diet. Concentrations of plasma estradiol and thyroxine were measured weekly from the beginning of treatment. Measured plumage characteristics included width of the black subterminal band on the tail, color (a composite index of hue and saturation), reflectance from 230 to 800 min. pattern of feather loss and regrowth on the tail and wing. and timing of onset and duration of molt. Aroclor 1242 depressed plasma thyroxine. Plasma estradiol levels remained low due to the phase of the breeding cycle. Treatments did not disrupt the measured plumage characteristics. This may be due to timing or dose of exposure or to genetic factors.
Additional publication details
The effects of polychlorinated biphenyls (Aroclor 1242) on thyroxine, estradiol, molt, and plumage characteristics in the American kestrel (Falco sparverius)