Habitat: Box-ironbark eucalypt forests and woodlands, particularly in blossoming trees and mistletoe, also seen in orchards and urban gardens

Distribution: South-eastern mainland Australia from Rockhampton, Queensland to Adelaide, South Australia

Life Span: Around 10 years in the wild

Conservation status: Listed as critically endangered in NSW (IUCN)

Main threats: Habitat loss due to climate change, predation and nest-raiding from birds and mammals, and competition from larger, aggressive native birds


The regent honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia) one of Australia's rarest birds, with conservationists estimating that there are less than 300 left in the wild.

A beautiful medium sized bird, it features a dark-coloured head, neck, and upper chest, contrasted by a golden-hued back and chest with black scaling. Its wings are black, highlighted by striking yellow patches, and it has a black tail with a yellow border. 

The male is distinguished by yellowish, textured skin around its eye. The female, being the smaller of the two, has only a small yellowish area beneath her eye and a reduced amount of black on her throat. They typically measure about 22cm in length.

The bird's song is soft and melodious, yet it can imitate the calls of bigger honeyeaters as well such as wattlebirds and friarbirdsAlthough many birds display the behaviour of vocal mimicry, no other bird species is known to mimic close relatives in this way.

Fun fact: The Regent Honeyeater helps maintain healthy populations of our iconic eucalyptus trees through pollination, providing important food and habitat for many other native animals. 


The regent honeyeater primarily feeds on nectar and other plant sugars. Additionally, it eats insects, spiders, and both wild and farmed fruits. While it typically searches for food among flowers or leaves, it occasionally comes down to the ground to splash in small bodies of water, and it might also catch insects mid-flight. This bird often claims a particular tree as its own for a short period and fends off competitors from its own or other species.

Breeding is normally in the spring: mostly from August to October but it can be as early as June or as late as February. In Victoria, breeding tends to be later, typically November to January. The Regent Honeyeater typically forms breeding pairs or occasionally gathers in loose colonies. The nesting process involves the female warming the eggs, while the male defends the breeding territory.

Two eggs are usually laid, sometimes three. Incubation takes about two weeks.

After the eggs hatch, only the female tends to the young in the nest, while both the male and female feed them a diet of nectar, lerps, and invertebrates. The fledglings take flight approximately 16 days after hatching and start foraging after another two weeks. However, they still beg for and receive food for an additional week before they are fully self-reliant. 

While it is common for there to be just one brood, good seasons with an extended availability of nectar can sometimes lead to a second brood, typically in a different location.

Having a connected rainforest is crucial to the long-term survival of this species. You can help protect regent honeyeater habitat. Find out how.


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