Posted on 02nd May 2023 by Media Relations
Future of rare Regent Honeyeater in safe hands with record-breaking breeding season
The future of the critically-endangered Regent Honeyeater is in safe hands with Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo recording its largest cohort of chicks since joining the recovery program in 2019.
This year a total of 41 chicks were born to nine breeding pairs, up from 33 chicks from eight pairs in 2022. It brings the total number of chicks bred at Taronga Western Plains Zoo to 107 from just three breeding seasons.
“It’s an incredible feeling to have our third straight successful breeding season here in Dubbo, with the highest number of chicks since our Regent Honeyeater Program began,” Keeper Kara Stevens said.
“The juveniles are now in our purpose-built flight aviary, where they’re learning to socialise and build their flight fitness, to hopefully be released into the wild one day.”
The Regent Honeyeater, with its striking black and yellow colouring, was once widespread across Australia but now only exists in small numbers across limited sites from north-east Victoria to south-western Queensland. Estimates suggest that only 350 Regent Honeyeaters remain in the wild, making these new arrivals crucial to the zoo-based insurance population for this critically-endangered species.
“The Regent Honeyeater is known as a flagship species for woodland birds, so this means we can learn a lot from this species when it comes to threatened ecological communities, like Box Ironbark,” Kara said.
“They’re a nomadic species, and a natural pollinator. They travel all up and down the east coast of Australia, pollinating different eucalypts and spreading their seeds, so they’re really vital to the health of our native forests.
“To be a keeper on the ground every day with this species in an incredible feeling. To be able to see the progression from egg, to chick, to release, is unlike anything else!”
Last year, Taronga Western Plains Zoo in partnership with the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program transported 30 Regent Honeyeaters to a release site, part of a cohort of 58 birds released into Wonnarua Country in the Lower Hunter Valley. A total of 45 Regent Honeyeaters bred at Taronga Western Plains Zoo have been released back into the wild since 2021.
The Regent Honeyeater Recovery Program is supported by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (NSW), Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (Victoria), Australian National University, Bird Life Australia and a number of zoos and wildlife parks in Australia.
To help support Taronga’s conservation breeding program for the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater donate at www.taronga.org.au/donate