As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Scientists Discover New Virus That Cause Beak Deformities in Birds

Aug 01, 2016 07:06 AM EDT

Scientists have discovered a new virus responsible for causing mysterious deformities in birds.

Researchers from the California Academy of Sciences, University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have found the new virus that has been linked to Avian Keratin Disorder (AKD), a disease that causes debilitating beak overgrowth.
The disease has affected populations of wild birds around the world, and the cause has remained elusive despite decades of research.

"Take one look at a bird suffering from Avian Keratin Disorder, and you'll understand the importance of stopping its spread," Jack Dumbacher, Academy curator of ornithology and mammalogy and co-author of the study, said in a press release.

"Birds must be able to feed themselves and preen their plumage by carefully spreading waterproofing oils on their feathers. When deformed beaks restrict them from these life-giving activities, birds become cold, hungry, and often die. We're trying to understand the causes, origins, and distribution of this disorder."

Avian Keratin Disorder is characterized by severe beak deformities such as elongation, crossing or curvature. The deformities affect birds' basic behaviors such as feeding and preening, which are crucial to their survival.

The mysterious condition was first documented among a population of black-capped chickadees in south-central Alaska in the 90s and spread into Canada and the Pacific Northwest.

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