Eleven white-tailed sea eagles (WSEs) (Haliaeetus albicilla) collected in Finland between 1994 and 2001 were examined for their causes of death, including analyses of ubiquitous environmental contaminants and parasites. Four WSEs died due to electrocution. Two were lead poisoned and another had fragments of a lead bullet in its gizzard. An 11-year-old female drowned entangled in fishing gear, but also had mercury levels in its liver and kidneys known for detrimental physiological effects. One WSE was evidently killed by an intraspecific conflict, which was also assumed to be with another bird. The mortality factors of two WSEs could not be clarified, but one had a lead level of 4.604 microg g(-1) in its liver, indicating high lead exposure at a clinically relevant concentration. All organ levels of chlorinated pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, and cadmium were moderate and not harmful for birds of prey. Seven helminth species, but no ectoparasites or coccidians, were found in 8 of 10 WSEs investigated for parasites. The highest prevalence of 40% was found for the liver fluke Metorchis billis, but no severe parasitosis was diagnosed for the eagles. The two acanthocephalan species Corynosoma semerme and Polymorphus meyeri are both new records for WSEs.
Animals Color Eagles/parasitology* Environmental Pollutants/analysis* Environmental Pollutants/toxicity Female Finland Helminthiasis, Animal/chemically induced Helminthiasis, Animal/mortality* Helminthiasis, Animal/parasitology* Helminthiasis, Animal/radiography Helminths/isolation & purification* Kidney/drug effects Liver/drug effects Male Metals, Heavy/analysis Metals, Heavy/toxicity Pesticides/analysis Pesticides/toxicity Polychlorinated Biphenyls/analysis Polychlorinated Biphenyls/toxicity Time Factors