Habitat and Ecology
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2012Critically Endangered
Surveys of range and abundance are conducted annually. Detailed research has been conducted on breeding biology. Restrictions have been placed on grazing and timber extraction at some important sites. Extensive replanting of habitat trees has occurred. Captive colonies have been established, and in 2008 27 birds (fitted with radio transmitters) were released in Chiltern National Park (Anon. 2008). A recovery plan is being implemented. In 2012 50 birds were recorded at a single property which had been placed under a covenant by BirdLife Australia’s Woodland Birds for Biodiversity Project in 2011 to protect its woodland vegetation (BirdLife Australia 2012). Many of these birds were colour-banded to help monitor their future movements. Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue to monitor wild birds at all recently used sites. Determine trends using existing sightings database and bird atlas project, largely through assistance of community-based surveys coordinated by the Regent Honeyeater Recovery Team and the Threatened Bird Network. Determine movement patterns and degree of isolation between breeding populations. Determine impact of M. melanocephala and P. corniculatus on population stability. Establish and maintain a reintroduced/translocated population. Prepare regional guidelines for habitat management, and research silvicultural techniques to accelerate maturity in key food species. Continue to restore habitat at a landscape scale and support and develop captive breeding programmes. Protect all regularly-used breeding and feeding sites on public land including Travelling Stock Routes. Conduct a public education programme. Determine and monitor habitat quality. Continue to support conservation management through the Regent Honeyeater Recovery Team and its operations groups. Continue to support community, particularly landholder, involvement in the recovery programme. Study genetic variability, particularly the extent to which the captive population is representative of wild variability.
The regent honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia) is a critically endangered bird endemic to South Eastern Australia. It is commonly considered a flagship species within its range, with the efforts going into its conservation having positive effects on many other species that share its habitat. Recent genetic research suggests it is closely related to the wattlebirds.
First described by the naturalist George Shaw in 1794, the regent honeyeater was known as Xanthomyza phrygia for many years, the genus erected by William John Swainson in 1837. However, genetic analysis shows that its ancestry is in fact nested within the wattlebird genus Anthochaera, and hence it is correctly described as Anthochaera phrygia. However it has retained the name Xantomyza as a subgenus.
The regent honeyeater was once common in wooded areas of eastern Australia, especially along the inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range. It once could be found as far west as Adelaide, but is now gone from South Australia and western Victoria. The population is now scattered, with the three main breeding areas being the Bundarra-Barraba area and Capertee Valley of New South Wales, and north-eastern Victoria.
Important Bird Areas
- New South Wales
- Brisbane Water
- Capertee Valley
- Greater Blue Mountains
- Hunter Valley
- Lake Macquarie
- Richmond Woodlands
The regent honeyeater exhibits unusual behaviour, in that particularly during winter, isolated individuals of this species associate with and then often mimic the calls of wattlebirds and friarbirds. Although many birds display the behaviour of vocal mimicry, no other bird species is known to mimic close relatives in this way. See Veerman, P.A. 1992 & 1994 Australian Bird Watcher.
The regent honeyeater is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List and under both Australia's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and Queensland's Nature Conservation Act 1992. The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010, compiled by researchers from Charles Darwin University and published in October 2011 by the CSIRO, added the regent honeyeater to the "critically endangered" list, giving habitat loss as the major threat.
- BirdLife International (2013). "Xanthomyza phrygia". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Menkhorst, Peter; Schedvin, Natasha; & Geering, David (1999-05-00). "Regent Honeyeater (Xanthomyza phrygia) Recovery Plan 1999-2003". Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Australia. Retrieved 2011-06-08.
- BirdLife International. (2011). Important Bird Areas. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 2012-01-02.
- Garnett, Stephen; Szabo, Judit and Dutson, Guy (2011). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010. Collingwood, Vic: CSIRO. ISBN 978-0-643-10368-9.
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