Cathy and Megan planting trees for Regent Honeyeaters.
The Regent Honeyeater numbers less than 350 birds scattered over a vast area from Victoria to Queensland. They are highly mobile, rarely remaining long in one place unless breeding. Even then, they usually depart as soon as their young are independent.
During winter, Regent Honeyeaters disperse widely in small groups. In spring they concentrate into the main breeding areas around Chiltern and Benalla in Victoria and Capertee Valley, Bundarra District and the Warrumbungles in NSW. Many pairs breed in small remnants of open forests in farmland or along roadsides.
The decline of the Regent Honeyeater appears to be due to a steady reduction in the extent and quality of its habitat. Many of the remaining stands of the key eucalypt species (such as Mugga Ironbark, White Box, Yellow Box, Yellow Gum, Blakely's Red Gum and mistletoe growing on River Oaks) have suffered in the past from harvesting of timber and the very slow growth rates of replacement trees. Lack of regeneration due to grazing by stock and hence a lack of new trees to replace dying trees in farmland is also a serious concern.
The magnificent Regent Honeyeater.Photo:B.Shepherd
The specialised requirements and elusive behaviour of the Regent Honeyeater make planning for its conservation difficult. In order to ensure the numbers and range of this species do not decline further, a Recovery Plan is being implemented. The plan aims to secure habitat at all regularly used sites and to increase the availability of high quality habitat throughout the species' range. It is essential to protect all trees of the key species and to ensure that regeneration of these species is occurring.
To that end, since 1994 concerned bird watchers, including many members of Cumberland Bird Observers' Club, have been participating in regular surveys and tree planting weekends in Capertee Valley, a 3 hour drive west of Sydney on the road to Mudgee. Tree plantings are held twice a year in May and August.