Regent Honeyeaters released as fight to save species continues


Nearly 60 captive-bred Regent Honeyeaters have been released in New South Wales, as efforts to save the Critically Endangered species ramp up.

The birds were released in the Hunter Valley in Wonnarua – representing the largest-ever introduction of the species in the south-eastern Australian state. Only around 300 Regent Honeyeaters are left in the wild and the species faces a real threat of extinction.

Some 300 Regent Honeyeaters are left in the wild in New South Wales (Jss367 via Wikimedia Commons).

Birdlife Australia has said that the captive-breeding programme works, with birds released in 2017 recently confirmed to be nesting "We know from modelling that's been done that to keep this species going, we have to release zoo-bred birds into the wild every few years," Birdlife Australia's NSW woodland bird program manager, Mick Roderick, said.

"We've just released 58 Regent Honeyeaters into the Lower Hunter region, which is really exciting. That's about 20% of the entire population. This is by far the biggest release we have done in the core of the bird's range."

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The birds were released on land owned by Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council, within the Kurri Kurri and Cessnock Woodlands. BirdLife Australia has been working with the community for several years implementing actions to help save Regent Honeyeater.

All the newly released birds have been fitted with a combination of colour rings, and about half of them have also had tiny radio transmitters attached to track their movements and survival over the coming months. "We have set our survival benchmark quite high, which is about 70% survival at 10 weeks," Mr Roderick said.

The Regent Honeyeater Recovery Team has now released a total of 373 birds into the wild across south-eastern Australia since 2000. Formerly more widely distributed in south-eastern mainland Australia, the core of the Regent Honeyeater population is now restricted to New South Wales.