Monday, 10 July 2023
A spate of sightings of the Critically Endangered Regent Honeyeater on the east coast of New South Wales has raised hopes for the survival of the species, after an entire breeding season where no nests could be found.
With a wild population of no more than 300 birds, and a range that has contracted sharply in recent decades, any sightings of this threatened species are welcome news, making recent sightings near Woolgoolga and Lake Macquarie in recent weeks encouraging news indeed.
“The current Regent Honeyeater population estimate is around 250 to 300 birds in the wild, and with not seeing a single nest last year, you would err towards the lower end of that estimate,” Mick Roderick, Birdlife Australia’s NSW Woodland Bird Program Manager, told the ABC.
“We have a couple of birds found in recent days, north of Woolgoolga, feeding on flowering Swamp Mahogany, and at the same time we have had up to a dozen birds in Lake Macquarie, also feeding in Swamp Mahogany,” he said.
And it’s not just that some birds had turned up there that has Mick excited, it’s how many there were.
“It’s fantastic,” he said, “12 birds in Lake Macquarie makes it the largest winter flock we have had there since 2011, so it’s really heartening news.”
“[Last season] was a season where we didn’t actually witness any successful breeding, and that was the first time that had happened, and that was a real concern,” he said. “For many years the Capertee Valley [near Lithgow] was always the stronghold for the bird… but we couldn’t even find them in the Capertee Valley.”
Nevertheless, despite not finding any nests, there was at least evidence that the birds had bred.
“We found two baby Regent Honeyeaters in [Werakata State Conservation Area, in a habitat called Kurri Sand Swamp Woodland]. One of the birds we think was about four months old, the other was about eight months old, so they had both hatched in different broods in the 2022 breeding season.”
“So, it wasn’t as disastrous as we had thought,” he said, “these birds are hanging on somewhere, so it gives us a bit of optimism.”
Find out more about our work returning Regent Honeyeaters to Wonnarua Country in this video from NSW DPE.
“Birdlife Australia is very eager to put the word out that Regent Honeyeaters are wintering along our coastline, and we would be delighted if the community could help out by doing some searches and assist in finding some Regent Honeyeaters,” Mick said.
“The breeding season is just around the corner, they will breed as early as late July and into August onwards, so we are really keen to try and find where these birds are.”
Report your Regent Honeyeater sighting to Freecall 1800 621 056 or filling out the form below
You can read Mick’s full interview here.
In the spirit of reconciliation BirdLife Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community.
We acknowledge the Traditional Owners, the Wonnarua people, of the land that this recovery project was held, and pay our respects the Elders past and present.
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