Beak and feather disease outbreak killing our lorikeets

DISEASE STRIKES: A young rainbow lorikeet recently rescued from East Ballina showing signs of beak and feather disease.
DISEASE STRIKES: A young rainbow lorikeet recently rescued from East Ballina showing signs of beak and feather disease.

LORIKEETS on the Northern Rivers are being struck down by a disease which affects their ability to fly.

Chrisy Clay from the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers said the beak and feather virus was not uncommon, but that it had increased suddenly in recent weeks.

"Beak and feather disease is a virus found in both wild and pet parrots that affects the growth and development of their feathers and beak," Ms Clay said.

"The disease, although life-threatening to parrots, doesn't affect humans."

Ms Clay said the disease mostly affected young birds, which still have dark beaks, but are missing tail feathers and the longer flight feathers on their wings.

"Without those important flight feathers, the birds are unable to fly and are commonly referred to as runners," she said.

"Often these birds are brought into care as seemingly tame lorikeets or as babies that haven't yet learnt to fly."

Ms Clay said they had sought advice from the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, but there is no cure for the disease.

"It is highly contagious and is spread via feces, feather dust, blood and crop contents of infected birds.

"The virus is so contagious that it can be passed on to young birds while still in their nests, with hollows remaining infected for many years."

Wildlife Carers is calling for assistance from the community with managing this disease.

Anyone who finds a sick or injured lorikeet should phone the 24-hour rescue hotline on 02 6628 1866.

For seabirds and marine turtles phone Australia Seabird Rescue on 02 6686 2852 and for koalas Friends of the Koala on 02 6622 1233. 

Topics:  editors picks lorikeets

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