The Regent Honeyeater is beautifully patterned with black and yellow lacy scalloping on its breast and back. The brilliant yellow patches on its wings and tail feathers are visible during flight. Each eye is surrounded with a large patch of bare, bumpy skin. The honeyeater is 200-300 mm in size and the female is slightly smaller than the male.
Distribution & Habitat
The Regent Honeyeater lives in eucalypt forests and woodlands dominated by Box Ironbark, in southeast Australia. They once ranged from Rockhampton in Queensland to the Mount Lofty Ranges in South Australia, but now they are only found from the Warrumbungle Ranges in New South Wales to central Victoria. The Regent Honeyeater once occurred in congregations of 50 to 100, but today it is found either singly, in pairs or small groups of no more than 10. Being partly migratory, the Honeyeater generally moves northwards in autumn and winter, returning south to breed in spring and congregating within all ranges when food is abundant.
Nests are constructed from strips of eucalypt bark, dried grasses and other plant materials. The bark strips form a thick, walled cup with cobwebs binding it together and fine dried grasses lining the nest. Two or three eggs are generally laid, which are red-buff in colour and speckled with small purple-red and violet-grey markings. Regent Honeyeaters usually nest in isolated pairs. The female incubates the eggs with the male always close in nearby trees. He later helps the female with the feed the young.
The Regent Honeyeaters depends mostly on the flowers of four eucalypt species and native mistletoe for its nectar supply. They also eat insects, manna gum, lerps (a small bug that lives on gum leaves) and hawk insects in flight in the high canopies of the woodland trees.
Efforts to protect the Regent Honeyeater are being undertaken by a multi-agency working group including Taronga and Adelaide Zoos, the NSW National Parks Service, Environment ACT, the Victorian Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Birdlife Australia and other bird and community groups.
Taronga Zoo has established a zoo-based population of the endangered Honeyeaters as part of a recovery plan. The plan also includes the protection of woodland areas that Regent Honeyeaters frequent. These areas will be protected from activities such as clearing, logging and firewood collection. Landcare organisations are revegetating areas to link remaining patches of habitat. By planting the eucalypt species that the Regent Honeyeater feeds on, their chances of survival can be greatly increased.
Efforts to save the Regent Honeyeater will also help to conserve remnant communities of other threatened or near threatened animals and plants, including the Swift Parrot, Superb Parrot, Brush-tailed Phascogale, Squirrel Glider and Painted Honeyeater.