American kestrels (Falco sparverius) were fed meat diets containing 0, 3, 6, or 12 ppm (dry weight) methylmercury chloride. Birds fed the 12-ppm diet started to show signs of neurotoxicity after 26 days and all died in 39?49 days. One male kestrel fed the 6-ppm diet died after 75 days of exposure and several others showed signs of neurotoxicity after 45 days. None of the birds fed the 3-ppm diet died or showed signs of toxicity. After 59 days of exposure, mercury concentrations in the liver, kidney, and blood of nonreproducing kestrels increased with increasing dietary concentration. Tissue concentrations of mercury also steadily increased over time in birds fed diets with 6 ppm mercury, which were necropsied at 8, 15, 29, or 59 days of exposure, reaching mean total mercury concentrations of 57, 46, and 45 ppm (wet weight) at 59 days in the liver, kidney, and whole blood, respectively. Two pairs of kestrels at each dietary concentration were allowed to breed. Eggs averaged 8.3 and 18.1 ppm (wet weight) total mercury from birds fed 3- and 6-ppm diets, respectively. Feathers grown during mercury exposure contained high concentrations of mercury: Birds fed 3- and 6-ppm diets contained 275 and 542 ppm total mercury, respectively.
Additional publication details
Dietary toxicity and tissue accumulation of methylmercury in American kestrels
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology