Felicity Ogilvie reported this story on Monday, June 1, 2015 12:55:00
ELEANOR HALL: A deadly disease is infecting the nestling population of one of the world's most critically endangered birds - the orange-bellied parrot.
The parrots spend their winters in Victoria and South Australia before flying to Tasmania's remote south-west wilderness to breed. Now, in a terrible blow for the future of the species, 19 of the estimated 30 birds that were born there last summer tested positive to beak and feather disease.
As Felicity Ogilvie reports from Hobart.
(sounds of parrots squawking)
FELICITY OGILVIE: The brightly coloured and sweet sounding orange-bellied parrot is so rare that scientists believe there are less than 60 adult birds left in the wild. The birds spend their summers rearing their young at Melaleuca in Tasmania's remote South West Wilderness. But last summer, it's believed 14 of the baby birds have been killed by the contagious beak and feather disease.
Samantha Vine is the head of conservation at Birdlife Australia, a not for profit group that seeks to protect native birds.
SAMANTHA VINE: It affects their - as the name suggests - beaks and feathers. So they grow abnormally. It is actually highly lethal to young birds, so obviously with around 30 new birds being added to the population this year, if there is such a high rate of mortality, we'd be very concerned that that cohort of babies will not make it.