Managing Regent Honeyeater habitat in the Capertee Valley
Tablelands Telegraph – March 2021
The Capertee Valley is a crucial breeding and foraging area for the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia). Extensive habitat enhancement and re-creation works have occurred throughout the valley for more than 20 years.
A key part of species recovery is to try and increase breeding success wherever possible. This is particularly important for a species as rare as the Regent Honeyeater, with as few as 300 individuals remaining. Enter Noisy Miner management.
Whilst a native species, Noisy Miners have in some places become over-abundant. They’re known to be an aggressive species and can out-compete other native species. This aggression can also lead to ‘nest failure’, due to chasing away prospecting Regents and even destruction of Regent Honeyeater nests.
The loss and fragmentation of woodland habitats across south-eastern Australia has enabled Noisy Miners to flourish. The impact they have on biodiversity is now well-documented and the impact they have on woodland birds is listed as a Key Threatening Process at both State and Federal levels.
Managing Noisy Miners to deliver conservation outcomes is not new. It’s been undertaken in a number of locations, and has been used to assist in the recovery of a number of species. In the context of the Regent Honeyeater, reduction work commenced in the Capertee Valley in 2016 by BirdLife Australia, funded by the NSW government’s Saving Our Species Program. Since that time several other programs have been conducted by the Australian National University and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Because of the success of Noisy Miner management in improving habitat for Regent Honeyeaters, additional works are planned. Future culling in the Capertee Valley is proposed to occur at targeted locations, largely dictated by known Regent Honeyeater breeding sites and other areas where it is assumed that Noisy Miners enter the valley (e.g. near Mount Marsden). BirdLife Australia has received funding from the federal government’s bushfire relief program to commence culls around Mount Marsden in autumn 2021.