Researchers teaching Regent Honeyeaters to sing

7 September 2021

Captive bred Regent Honeyeaters are being played recordings of wild honeyeaters to ensure that once released they can ‘speak the right language’ and sing like their wild counterparts. 

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said funding from the Morrison Government’s $200 million bushfire and habitat recovery package was supporting a Taronga Zoo program to expose captive birds to wildtype songs, improving their chances of survival once released.

“The critically endangered Regent honeyeater was impacted significantly by the Black Summer bushfires, with fewer than 350 birds remaining in the wild,” Minister Ley said.

“We are finding that the song of the Regent Honeyeater is changing due to the small populations both in the wild and in zoos.

“Taronga Conservation Society has partnered with the Australian National University to explore how birdsong can be used as part of the ongoing species recovery program at Taronga Zoo.

“Successful captive breeding programs are one way we can boost Regent honeyeater numbers, and researchers hope that by exposing them to their song, once released, they will be able to better maintain social bonds with wild birds and find mates.”