Mercury and Birds

confluenceA story I’ve been working on since April came out this week. It’s about the effects of mercury pollution on bird songs. It appeared on the websites of both Environmental Health News and National Geographic. It also got a nice mention from the New York Times.

The story is mostly about the research of Dan Cristol, an ecologist at William and Mary. He started studying the effects of mercury contamination from an old DuPont factory on the birds in a tributary of the Shenandoah River a decade ago. He’s part of a big project, funded by DuPont.

For the story, I took the train to Williamsburg and spent an afternoon with Cristol there, meeting the zebra finches in the animal research facility. (So cute.) The next morning, he picked me up early for the 150-mile drive to the Shenandoah Valley, where he was meeting a professor and a grad student from another university to give them a tour of his field sites along the river. On the way back to Williamsburg in the afternoon, he dropped me off at Richmond to catch the train back to D.C.

Read the story: Heavy metal songs: Contaminated songbirds sing the wrong tunes

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