The Regent honeyeater is one of Australia’s most beautiful birds. Once common all along the south- eastern seaboard, they are now only found in small areas in South Eastern Queensland, South East Victoria and NSW.
The Regent is listed as Critically Endangered internationally, nationally and in NSW.
The Regent has striking yellow and black plumage, with a strongly scalloped pattern on the breast.
The males have a yellowish warty–looking patch of bare skin around its dark eye. They feed on gum blossom, (Spotted Gum is a known favourite), mistletoe and some insects and native and cultivated fruit. Between August and January each year they lay 2-3 eggs in a cup-shaped nest, constructed from bark, lined with softer material in the fork of a tree, one to 10 metres from the ground.
The woodland habitat the birds need to survive has been vastly removed for agriculture and the remaining suitable remnants are increasingly fragmented and degraded.
The situation is so dire that the birds are at real risk of extinction.
Captive breeding programs have been commenced in recent years, notably at Taronga Park Zoo, and several releases of captive bred birds have occurred in Victoria.
There are thought to be only 350-400 individual birds remaining in the wild. In 2016 so far there have been approximately 40 birds sighted and only 5 of these have been accounted for in the Hunter Valley.
The Tomalpin woodlands around Kurri Kurri, contain one of the few remaining viable breeding sites for the honeyeaters.
A recent decision by the NSW land and Environment could save some habitat after a successful challenge to a development proposal.
Members of the Hunter Bird Observers Club and other keen birders have been out in the local woodland areas searching for these lovely birds for months now with little success.
Locally, Spotted Gums are flowering and efforts are concentrated where trees are known to be in blossom.
Birdlife Australia manages the recovery action for the species, part of which is the coordination of range wide searches in May and August each year.
This of course is an activity with a high priority on the Club calendar of events.
Members of the public can assist as well and if you are out and about and see any Regent Honeyeaters please contact Mick Roderick at firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you would like to find out more about Regent Honeyeaters there is information at http://www.birdlife.org.au/projects/woodland-birds- for-biodiversity.