Diagnostic and analytical findings are presented for 105 common loons (Gavia immer) found dead or debilitated in New York (USA) from 1972–99. Aspergillosis (23% of cases) and ingestion of lead fishing weights (21%) were the most common pathologies encountered. Stranding on land, shooting, other trauma, gill nets, air sacculitis and peritonitis, and emaciation of uncertain etiology accounted for most of the remaining causes of disease or death. Analysis for total mercury in the liver of 83 loons yielded a geometric mean (gm) of 10.3 mg/kg (wet basis) and range of 0.07 to 371 mg/kg, with emaciated birds generally showing higher levels. Organochlorine contaminant levels in brain were generally low, principally consisting of PCB's (gm = 2.02 mg/kg) and DDE (0.47 mg/kg).
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Vol. 37 • No. 1