June 24, 2022

The regent honeyeater, a native songbird, predicted to have fewer than 300 birds in Australia.

In April 2022, Australian National University (ANU) provided an update on the progress of their specialist donor program – Difficult Bird Research Group. With over 100 donors, the ANU has worked to identify Australia’s most endangered and “difficult”( extremely endangered, hard to find, occur in wild and rugged terrain, and move around the landscape) birds over the last few years. The focus is on research and conservation to better understand our bird wildlife and any threats to their existence.

One such species identified in the research was the threat of extinction of the regent honeyeater. The regent honeyeater is a unique Australian songbird, and there are estimated to be fewer than 300 surviving in the wild.

The lead research author, Professor Rob Heinsohn, identified three key areas to prioritise to bolster conservation to increase regent honeyeater numbers. These included:

  1. Increase volume of protected nests for breeding, with a focus on predatory-mitigation solutions;
  2. Increase breeding programs in zoos with a breed and release program to transition into the wild.
  3. Restoration of the natural habitat of regent honeyeaters and future protection to ensure the feeding, breeding and shelter are provided for.

Whilst the ANU recognises that intensive conservation efforts are already in place, the regent honeyeaters are heading for extinction in 20 years. Once one of the most common birds (located from Adelaide to Rockhampton), Professor Rob Heinsohn, has stated that the “regent honeyeater population has been decimated by the loss of over 90 per cent of their preferred woodland habitats.”

ANU team research recommends doubling to save the regent honeyeater. The Taronga Conservation Society has an established breeding program, with a release into the Blue Mountains ranges.

At the Bird Advocacy Foundation (BAF), we promote better outcomes for our native bird species. We work with a range of partners to drive new initiatives which promote the availability of food, water and shelter for the preservation of our bird wildlife. Our research suggests that many challenges faced between humans and birds can be remedied with proactive planning and the implementation of wildlife support strategies.

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Learn from Professor Gisela Kaplan 

Professor Gisela Kaplan is a renowned expert in bird behaviour. The presentation provided via the link provides insights into the challenges our native Australian parrots face and the concerns for their long-term sustainability as a species, with many parrots endangered or suffering declining population numbers. Click here to view the presentation.