Regent Honeyeater Fact File
The regent honeyeater is a brilliantly colored bird with a black, head, neck and upper breast. Along the back is yellow feathers. The underside grades in to a white rump. The tail is colored black with a yellow edge.
Females tend to be smaller than males. They differ in appearance slightly with the female have a bare yellowish patch under the eye and less black on her throat.
A bare pinkish patch of skin is around the eye.
These animals measure between 20 and 24cm (7.9-9.4in) long with a wingspan up to 30cm (11.8in) across.
Females have an average weight of 39g (1.4oz) while the larger male weighs 45g (1.6oz).
Regent honeyeaters are considered omnivores.
These animals primarily feed on nectar and insects. The percentage of insects consumed will increase during their breeding period. Native and farmed fruits may also be consumed.
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Australia is the native home of the regent honeyeater. Here they can be found from Victoria in the south, up through New South Wales and in to a small portion of Queensland.
Their range has been much reduced previously stretching up the East coast from Adelaide in the South to Brisbane in the north.
These animals make their home in forests such as riparian forest and box-ironbark eucalypt forest. They show a preference towards fertile lowland areas.
In some areas they are moving in to urban areas as woodland tree species have been planted there.
Breeding takes place from August to January for the regent honeyeater.
They will form their nest in the crown of a tall tree and occasionally among mistletoe. This nest is created from strips of eucalypt bark, grasses and other plant material. This is a thick cup and is bound together with cobwebs. Fine grass will be used to line the nest.
In to this nest they deposit 2-3 eggs which are a red-buff color speckled with purple-red and violet-grey markings.
The female takes full responsibility for the incubation of the eggs with the male remaining close by during this period.
Incubation of the eggs lasts for 14 days. Once the chicks hatch they will be brooded by both parents and fed regularly until they fledge at 16 days old.
There is some regional variation in the calls of this species but birds which are being tracked have been recorded to move between different sites.
In parts of their range young birds are not learning their unique song due to the the low numbers of them remaining. Instead they pick up the call of other birds. Birds in the captive breeding program are now played recordings of songs prior to release so they can learn the wild call.
While in flight they create a flute-like metallic call.
During winter these animals have been seen to mimic the call of the wattlebird or friarbird.
Most of their time is spent in the trees where they forage for food. They come down to the ground to bathe in a puddle or pool.
These animals once flocked in the hundreds and were easily seen overhead. Due to the significant decrease in numbers they are now elusive and only found in small groups.
Predators and Threats
Introduced house sparrows are another egg predator and are contributing to their decline.
A range of substantial threats to their survival have been presented by human expansion. One major factor is clearing for agriculture or residential areas which has removed around 75% of their habitat. This removes both nesting sites and sources of nectar on which they can feed.
Their population decline has increased the risk of a severe loss of genetic diversity.
It has been suggested that their habitat may also be becoming threatened by fragmentation which is increased by aggressive birds such as the noisy miner or noisy friarbird excluding them from areas.
A captive breeding program exists for the species which has helped to return birds to the wild in an effort to increase their population.
Regent honeyeaters are an important pollinator and their removal from the ecosystem is affecting other threatened species in this area.
A captive breeding program for the regent honeyeater has seen 200 of these birds returned to the wild.
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Morcombe, M., 2003. Field Guide To Australian Birds. Archerfield, Qld.: Steve Parish Pub.
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Murray, M. and Carter, L., 2021. Regent Honeyeater. [online] The Australian Museum. Available at: <https://australian.museum/learn/animals/birds/regent-honeyeater/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].
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Abc.net.au. 2021. Regent honeyeaters are so rare that young birds aren’t learning their own song. [online] Available at: <https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-17/regent-honeyeaters-failing-to-learn-song-critical-endangered/13253084> [Accessed 3 April 2021].
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