The Regent Honeyeater is a small nectar feeding passerine, with striking black and gold feathering. It weighs between 40 and 50 grams. Adults have a patch of bare, warty skin around their eyes. In winter they are known to flock in small groups and are often found in the presence of larger honeyeaters in spring. In captivity they can live for up to 18 years.
Habitat and Distribution
Regent Honeyeaters have a very patchy distribution over a vast area stretching from southern Queensland to central Victoria. It is known from four locations in the ranges of northern Victoria (Chiltern- Mt Pilot) and central NSW (Capertee, Cessnock, Barraba) where it depends on the box-iron bark open forest . The presence of flowering eucalypts, especially Iron bark, White box, Grey box, Yellow box and Blakely’s red gum appears important for breeding, as is flowering mistletoe on Sheoaks and Swamp Mahogany. Sheoaks along creeks are a favoured nesting location .
Regent Honeyeaters are semi-nomadic and make unpredictable movements over great distances.
A century ago the Regent Honeyeater was reported to occur in large numbers but has now declined to approximately 350-400 individuals. Loss of key eucalypt forest which provides nectar sources, and competition for resources from other aggressive honeyeater species are considered key threats. The Regent Honeyeater’s nomadic habit and broad habitat and resource requirements pose great challenges for monitoring the population as well as determining effective actions to halt the species decline .
A National Regent Honeyeater Recovery effort is in operation, involving state conservation agencies in Victoria and New South Wales, Birdlife Australia, several ZAA zoos and local communities. Large scale tree planting to restore habitat has been occurring for two decades and reintroduction of captive bred-birds commenced in 2000. Three releases totalling 117 birds have occurred as of January 2015. The captive breeding program was initiated by Taronga Zoo in 1995.
The Regent Honeyeater has a diet typical of honeyeaters, taking nectar from at least 16 species of eucalypts and 2 species of mistletoe. They also eat a large variety of insects, gleaning them from foliage and bark, as well as hawking them in the air.
Breeding and Lifecycle
Regent Honeyeaters start breeding in August and chicks can be produced through to January. They make a cup shaped nest of bark strips and Casuarina needles, bound with fresh cobwebs and lined with soft materials. Nests are located high in the tree canopy or out in extremities of branches.
They generally lay 2 to 3 eggs which are incubated only by the female for 14 days. Both parents feed the chicks which fledge after another two weeks. Nestlings are fed mostly insects and a small amount of nectar and lerps. The juveniles are usually independent at about 35 days at which time the males tend to drive them away from the nest, especially if the female is re-nesting.
Amazingly the Regent Honeyeaters have been found to be capable of breeding at 9 months of age, although most generally start breeding after a year. Females are capable of producing up to three to four clutches in a season in captivity. Breeding longevity in captivity has shown that females can continue to breed to 14 years and some males at 16 years.
If you see a Regent Honeyeater in the wild contact:
Also visit DEPI
www.depi.vic.gov.au – Native Plants& Animals/Threatened Species & Communities
Garnett S , Szabo J, Dutson G, (2011) Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010, CSIRO, Australia, p360
Oliver D., Ley and Williams, B.,(1998) Emu vol 98, pt 2. Pp97-103.
Barker & Vestjens (1984), The Food of Australian Birds, CSIRO, Australia
Gillespie,J (2014) ZAA Regent Honeyeater SPARKS studbook, Taronga Conservation Society Australia