Sweet release – endangered regent honeyeaters soar

The population of one of Australia’s most endangered species will be bolstered, with 20 conservation-bred regent honeyeaters released into the wild.

Regent honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia)

Environment Minister Matt Kean said this was the largest release of conservation-bred regent honeyeaters ever undertaken in NSW as part of an Australia-wide recovery effort.

“Regent honeyeater numbers are at critical levels with only about 350 birds remaining,” Mr Kean said.

“The birds were released onto private property in the Lower Hunter, where it’s hoped they will mix with the wild population and breed.

“The fires over summer have further impacted the breeding and foraging habitat of regent honeyeaters, making this release and ongoing conservation breeding even more important.”

“This project aims to bolster the wild population with conservation bred birds until it becomes self-sustaining,” Mr Kean said.

The 20 birds were raised at specialised facilities at Taronga Zoo in Sydney where they have been successfully breeding the species for 20 years. The facilities have recently expanded to include purpose-built aviaries at Western Plains Zoo.

Beloved by bird watchers, regent honeyeaters are medium sized black and yellow birds that feed on nectar from eucalypts and mistletoe.

Once widespread across south-eastern Australia, they now exist in small numbers across limited sites from north-eastern Victoria to south-eastern Queensland.

The NSW regent honeyeater conservation breeding and release project is led by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment in partnership with BirdLife Australia, Taronga Zoo, the NSW Environmental Trust, Saving our Species, Hunter Local Land Services and Biodiversity Conservation Trust.

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