Rare honeyeaters are a sweet sight at Melbourne Zoo

Rare honeyeaters are a sweet sight at Melbourne Zoo

A flock of Regent honeyeaters has migrated into a newly renovated habitat at Melbourne Zoo, marking the first time the critically endangered bird has been visible to visitors in almost a decade.   

The bright yellow and black honeyeaters have made quick work of exploring their new digs, springing between branches of eucalyptus, banksia and grevillea, and bathing in their own flowing stream.

Melbourne Zoo birds keeper Ben Oliver said flowering native plants were crucial for setting the scene.

“Regent honeyeaters are really active birds, and their zoo habitat is designed to include lots of foraging opportunities,” Mr Oliver said. “This is to replicate natural behaviours that we would see from them in their open-forest and woodland habitats.”

 

We’re really excited for our members and visitors to see this beautiful species for the first time since 2016, and hope that they fall in love with them just like we have.

 

Once abundant across the east coast of Australia, from Brisbane to Adelaide, fewer than 250 Regent honeyeaters remain in the wild primarily due to habitat destruction. Without sustained conservation intervention, the species will likely become extinct within 15 years.

Regent honeyeaters are a nomadic species, which relies on a primarily nectivorous diet. Historically, they would fulfil an important pollination role for the many flowering native plants within Box Ironbark ecosystems, migrating through their range to take advantage of an abundance of pollen and nectar throughout the year.

In 2007, Zoos Victoria began breeding the critically endangered species at Melbourne Zoo and has since contributed 57 individuals to the Regent honeyeater conservation breeding program led by Taronga Conservation Society Australia and BirdLife Australia.

Mr Oliver said Zoos Victoria and its partners were committed to breeding strong and healthy Regent honeyeaters to give them the best chance of success when we release them into the wild.

The Regent honeyeater is one of 27 priority local threatened species that Zoos Victoria is committed from saving from extinction.

Melbourne Zoo visitors are reminded that all tickets must be pre-booked online at zoo.org.au

Zoos Victoria Members no longer need to book but are required to scan their membership card for entry. •

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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