During January to March 1991, 38 mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) found dead from a group of approximately 600 overwintering on the South Saskatchewan River were examined. Thirty birds died from starvation, four had disseminated Staphylococcus aureus infection, and the cause of death of four birds was not determined. All six birds from which the esophagus was examined microscopically, including the four birds with staphylococcosis, had squamous metaplasia of the submucosal glands, a lesion pathognomonic for vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A deficiency may occur in mallards and other waterfowl that overwinter north of traditional wintering areas and rely on grains deficient in carotenoids.
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Vol. 28 • No. 2