Three main groups of persistent organic pollutants (POPs); namely organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs) were quantified in water and sediment samples, as well as in various invasive and non-invasive samples from waterbirds in the Buyuk Menderes River (BMR). Liver and muscle tissues, blood, and preen gland oil samples of yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis) and Euroasian coot (Fulica atra) were collected both from the origin (Isikli Lake) and the estuary (Soke) of the river, blood and preen gland oil samples of grey heron (Ardea cinerea) and pelican (Pelecanus crispus) were collected from the estuary only. In addition, non-hatched eggs from several above species and Mediterranean gull (Larus melanocephalus), in either station were collected. In all samples, POP contamination was measured and the potential usefulness of those invasive and non-invasive sampling for biomonitoring was evaluated. Activities of antioxidant enzymes were measured as potential indicators of POP exposure and of changes in the cellular defence. Venous blood proved to be a promising biomonitor for the concentrations in liver and muscle, especially for PCBs. Activities of antioxidant enzymes were correlated with the liver concentrations of several OCP congeners. The measured egg DDE concentrations were below the established threshold concentrations for the risk of hatch and reproductive success. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.