Feathers

 

Like nails and hair, bird feathers are a keratinous tissue that grows. As such, when feathers grow they will record the chronological elemental changes occurring in the blood over time - changes arising from a e.g., seasonal diet, migration, and/or feeding within a contaminated site. Using laser ablation ICP-MS we are able to extract the story of metal exposure in birds in a non-lethal or non-invasive way by using feathers, rather than invasive blood, eggs or tissue.