As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Michigan bald eagles are basically flame retardant

February 11, 2015

Chuck Bednar for – Your Universe Online

Not really, but they are one of the most contaminated avian species on the planet, according to researchers from the University of Michigan in a recent edition of the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

Nil Basu, an associate professor at McGill University who conducted his research while at the Ann Arbor-based university, and his colleagues analyzed hepatic polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) levels in Wisconsin river otters and Michigan bald eagles from 2009 to 2011.

According to, the researchers examined 33 eagles, and found that all but two of them tested positive for at least four common types of PBDE, a type of flame retardant which were commonly used from 1970 through 2004, when they were banned and/or phased out.

In fact, one of the bald eagles tested measured at 1,538 parts per billion PBDEs in its liver, the website explained. In comparison, the median concentration in humans in the US is about 30 ppb, making it one of the highest concentration rates in the world.

Previous studies have linked exposure to the substance to liver, thyroid and brain damage in humans, and in birds, it has been associated with hormone disruption, reproductive issues and behavioral and developmental problems. While the population is stable, the eagles had PBDE concentrations that were “among the highest…in liver tissues of any wildlife.”

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