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Regent Honeyeater captive release – 2022 NSW

Regent Honeyeater captive release – 2022 NSW

By Mick Roderick, Woodland Bird Program Manager at BirdLife Australia.

“Red Red”. Photo © Mick Roderick, BirdLife Australia, courtesy of Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council

The Regent Honeyeater is a critically endangered bird that is now so few in number that we need to breed them in captivity, not just so that we have an insurance population but also to supplement the extremely small wild population, which may be as few as 250 individuals.

Most of the releases of Regent Honeyeaters have so far occurred in north-east Victoria, but since 2020 three releases have occurred in the Lower Hunter near Cessnock. The most successful of these have occurred in a remarkable patch of bushland just south of Kurri, known as the Tomalpin Woodlands.

In recent years, the Tomalpin Woodlands have emerged as the single most important site for Regent Honeyeaters and in 2018 it was the only place in NSW that they bred.

The most recent release occurred in mid-November 2022 when exactly 50 zoo-bred Regent Honeyeaters were released at Tomalpin on Wonnarua Country on land owned by Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council. Birds are still present and are being monitored to this day. The releases are coordinated by the Department of Planning & Environment, BirdLife Australia and Taronga Conservation Society Australia.

The images on this page show two of our released birds – “Red Red” and “White White”, names which correspond to their colour bands, as each bird has a unique colour band combination.

(L to R): Beau Meney, Mick Roderick and Rob Hynson, all from BirdLife Australia, tracking the birds just after their release. Photo © Alex Pike, DPE, courtesy of Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council.
“White White” Photo © Mick Roderick, Birdlife Australia, courtesy of Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council

For more details about the monitoring program, check out our Community Updates.

And if you’re lucky enough to have spotted one, please report Regent Honeyeater sightings ASAP to

This video shows a story we had aired on The Project last year – it highlights the conservation battle over Tomalpin.

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Published: 26 Jan 2023