Marley News July 2012
Regent Honeyeater from the 2013 release seen gleaning insects and drinking nectar

In April, a very special event took place. Keepers from the bird team at Taronga Zoo had been planning this for a long time. Michael is the Supervisor of the Bird Keepers and one of my Mum’s good friends, so I thought I would ask him some questions about what the Regent Honeyeater release was all about…

Me: What is special about the Regent Honeyeater?

Michael: They are very beautiful birds and only 40 years ago they were quite common. But in the last 20 years, they have become less and less common. We have been told by scientists studying the birds, that there could be less than 400 left in the wild.

Me: Wow! That’s not many! Why are they all gone?

Michael: We think it’s because they have less trees to live in these days. And they are fussy and like a certain type of tree. Farming the land has meant humans have cut down a lot of the trees the Regent Honeyeaters like, so they have to fly farther to get their food and find trees to make nests in.

Regent Honeyeater In Natural Habitat

Me: What did your team do to get the birds ready to be released into the wild?

Michael: We bred some chicks last year and they were the ones we released. They are old enough to fly and look after themselves, but they haven’t lived in the Zoo so long that they don’t know how to find food and live in the wild. They are perfect for release. We took them to a town called Chiltern, in Victoria, because it is close to a big forest that is full of the right kind of trees for them. We even set up tents for them to spend a couple of days in to get used to the forest, the sounds and smells. Then on the right day, when the weather was lovely, we opened the tents and let the birds fly out when they wanted to. We put food in the tents for another day, so that they could come back if they needed to, but they didn’t! They all liked the forest and decided to live there forever!

Me: How will you know if they like it?

Michael: Some of the birds have trackers on them. It sends a little signal that we can follow so we know where the birds are. We have over 20 volunteers involved in tracking the birds.

Me: What does it feel like to know you have helped these endangered animals?

YATZ students planting trees for Regent Honeyeater

Michael: It’s a very cool feeling! I’m very proud of my team and the work they did!

Me: You should be! That’s awesome! Thanks for telling me about it.

You might like to follow this link to read some blogs that YATZ (Youth at the Zoo) wrote while they were in Chiltern helping the Bird Team.