Regent honeyeaters are so rare that young birds aren’t learning their own song

Numbers of seriously threatened regent honeyeaters have actually fallen so low in the wild that specialists state some young birds are stopping working to discover how to sing their own song.

Research from the Australian National University (ANU) has actually revealed the regent honeyeater is at threat of losing its “song culture”.

Lead author Ross Crates stated without any adult birds around to teach them, some juvenile regent honeyeaters had actually required to copying the tunes of other types.

“The population is probably less than 300 birds all up in the wild, maybe 150 males, and around 12 per cent of those males have learnt to sing the songs of other species instead of singing like a regent honeyeater,” he stated.

“These birds are now so rare, and so sparsely distributed throughout their massive range, we are thinking that when some of the young birds leave the nest and wander out on their own, they are not able to find other adult male regent honeyeaters to learn their songs from.

The types is seriously threatened, with really low numbers in the wild.(

Supplied: Bronwyn Ellis


‘Brink of termination’

Dr Crates said a failure to pass on its unique song could further contribute to the decline of the species.

Regent honeyeaters are found from northern Victoria to southern Queensland.

“We are fretted it might be a hazardous indication that this types is actually on the verge of termination if they begin to lose their song culture,” he said.

Dr Crates said it could impact the birds’ ability to communicate and also reduce their chances of finding a mate.

“A great deal of songbirds, consisting of the regent honeyeater, will utilize their song to attempt and impress the woman,” he stated.

“Even those who do manage to secure a female, if they sing unusual songs, they are less likely to nest with that female [and] she is less likely to lay an egg.”

A medium-sized wgite, black and yellow bird sitting in a gum tree next to two grey fluffy chicks.
A regent honeyeater with chicks. Efforts are underway to demonstration their nest websites.(

Supplied: Mick Roderick


Birdlife Australia’s NSW forest bird program supervisor Mick Roderick stated it was engaging proof of the ongoing requirement for preservation work.

“I have not had this experience with any other species before,” he stated.

“It’s quite sad and very alarming.”

A black, white and yellow bird sitting on a bare branch, with its beak open.
Low varieties of fully grown birds indicates its difficult for juveniles to discover how to sing.(

Supplied: Murray Chambers


‘Whacky’ tunes

Dr Crates stated in locations where there were still affordable varieties of the bird, the males sang abundant and complicated tunes, yet where the birds were rare the males sang streamlined or absolutely various tunes.

“Some of them are songs you might expect [to hear], like a little wattle bird or noisy friar bird,” he stated.

“Some are whacky … some birds [regent honeyeaters] are singing like an eastern rosella [or] a currawong

Dr Crates said researchers now expected to hear regent honeyeaters singing a range of different bird songs.

“As the program has advanced it’s ended up being less of a surprise,” he said.

“If regent honeyeaters get spotted in uncommon locations, we’ve nearly specified now where we state, ‘What does this bird sing like?’

“A case in point was a bird who turned up in the Botanic Gardens in Wollongong a few years back that was singing like a black-faced cuckoo shrike.”

A black, white and yellow bird feeds from a yellow gum tree blossom.
Experts are hoping regent honeyeaters will delight in a strong breeding season after abundant rains.(

Supplied: Liam Murphy


Music lessons

A regent honeyeater slave reproducing program at Taronga Zoo is now the focus of efforts to teach young regent honeyeaters how to sing their own song.

The research study likewise revealed that regent honeyeaters born in captivity had a various song to wild birds.

“We are working closely with Taronga Zoo now,” Dr Crates stated.

“We are using our recordings of males who do still sing properly, that we’ve found in the wild over the past five years, and playing those songs through speakers to young birds in captivity.

Three birds with yellow and black and fluffy coats
Captive-reproduced regent honeyeaters are being played recordings of wild regent honeyeaters.(

Supplied: Taronga Zoo


Mr Roderick said after recent solid rainfall regent honeyeater habitat was thriving, which was one positive sign ahead of this year’s breeding season.

“It looks set to be a definitely extraordinary spring for eucalypt bloom, the gum trees they feed upon, after so several years of dry and now the rains have actually come, we are discovering great deals of buds on their preferred trees,” he stated.

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