Contrasting levels of heavy metals in the feathers of urban pigeons from close habitats suggest limited movements at a restricted scale.
Despite restrictions in emissions, heavy metals may remain a major environmental issue due to their numerous sources and their persistence. Here, we assessed current levels of 4 metals (Copper, Cadmium, Lead, Zinc) in the feathers of 91 feral pigeons (Columba livia) from 7 sites in the urbanized region of Paris. Elements were detected in all pigeons, indicating that metals persist in urbanized areas. The ratio between metal concentrations in the feathers vs. in the environment calculated using data from other studies was 2-90 times higher for cadmium than for other metals, underlying its ecological importance. Concentrations in the feathers depended on locality, suggesting that pigeons remain in local habitats at this restricted scale, as expected from previous observations. Overall, our study suggests that urban feral pigeons may represent a good model system for metal biomonitoring.