Beak and feather disease virus detected in the endangered Red Goshawk (Erythrotriorchis radiatus)

Christopher MacColl, James E.M. Watson, Nicholas P. Leseberg, Richard Seaton, Tridip Das, Shubhagata Das, Shane R. Raidal

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We report the first detection and prevalence of Beak and feather disease virus (BFDV) in Australia’s Red Goshawk (Erythrotriorchis radiatus). This is a new host for this pervasive pathogen amongst a growing list of non-psittacine species including birds of prey from the orders Accipitriformes (hawks, eagles, kites), Falconiformes (falcons and caracas), and Strigiformes (owls). The Red Goshawk is the first non-psittacine species listed as Endangered to be diagnosed with BFDV. We report an initial case of infection discovered post-mortem in a dead nestling and subsequent surveillance of birds from across northern Australia. We reveal BFDV prevalence rates in a wild raptor population for the first time, with detections in 25% (n = 7/28) of Red Goshawks sampled. Prevalence appears higher in juveniles compared to adults, although not statistically significant, but is consistent with studies of wild psittacines. BFDV genotypes were associated with the Loriinae (lorikeets, budgerigar, and fig parrots), Cacatuini (Cockatoos), and Polytelini (long-tailed parrots) tribes; species which are preyed upon by Red Goshawks. A positive BFDV status may be associated with lower body mass but small sample sizes precluded robust statistical analysis. We postulate the possible impacts of the virus on Red Goshawks and discuss future research priorities given these preliminary observations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10263
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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