The vibrant colours of Australia’s crimson Rosella parrot might not in fact be quite as they seem. The colours covering its feathers could be the result of a virus that is known to kill other species.
A research team from Deakin’s Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE) and School of Medicine carried out an eight-year study of the Crimson Rosella and subspecies across New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.
The Beak and Feather Disease Virus that the Crimson Rosella carry around so proudly in the colour of their feathers is surprisingly deadly in other parrot species. As such, the Australian Government have listed the Beak and Feather Disease Virus as a key threat to biodiversity under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Justin Eastwood, Deakin CIE PhD student who worked on the project, explains: “The virus is only found in parrots; it’s no danger to humans, but the danger it presents to parrots seems to vary from species to species and it can be pretty nasty.”