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Regent Honeyeater

Scientific name: Anthochaera phrygia
Conservation status in NSW: Critically Endangered
Commonwealth status: Critically Endangered

The Regent Honeyeater is a species on the edge of extinction, with numbers as low as 250 in the wild, propped up by regular captive breeding and released birds to boost numbers through a dedicated Recovery Team.


It is also a flagship threatened woodland bird whose conservation will benefit a large suite of other threatened and declining woodland fauna. The species inhabits dry open forest and woodland, particularly Box-Ironbark woodland, and riparian forests of River Sheoak. Regent Honeyeaters inhabit woodlands that support a significantly high abundance and species richness of bird species. These woodlands have significantly large numbers of mature trees, high canopy cover and abundance of mistletoes.

In the OurBushland area, the Cessnock Biodiversity area provides critical complex habitat for this species. The area is listed in the Recovery Plan for this species for it's key breeding habitat, and nectar (gum blossom and mistletoe) in the Lower Hunter bushlands.


The Regent Honeyeater is a striking and distinctive, medium-sized, black and yellow honeyeater with a sturdy, curved bill.
Adults weigh 35 - 50 grams, are 20 - 24 cm long and have a wings-pan of 30 cm. Its head, neck, throat, upper breast and bill are black and the back and lower breast are pale lemon in colour with a black scalloped pattern. Its flight and tail feathers are edged with bright yellow. There is a characteristic patch of dark pink or cream-coloured facial-skin around the eye. Sexes are similar, though males are larger, darker and have larger patch of bare facial-skin.
The call is a soft metallic bell-like song; birds are most vocal in non-breeding season. It has recently been placed in the genus Anthochaera along with the wattlebirds, and was formerly known by the name Xanthomyza phrygia.

Key Habitats 

Key areas include the Bundarra-Barraba, Pilliga Woodlands, Mudgee-Wollar and the Capertee Valley and Hunter Valley areas in New South Wales, and the Chiltern and Lurg-Benalla regions of north-east Victoria.Habitat critical to the survival of the Regent Honeyeater occurs in a wide range of land ownership arrangements, including on private land, travelling stock routes and reserves, state forests and state reserves, and National Parks. It is essential that the highest level of protection is provided to these areas and that enhancement and protection measures target these productive sites

Key tree and mistletoe species for the Regent Honeyeater:

  • Mugga (or Red) Ironbark, Eucalyptus sideroxylon#

  • Yellow Box, E. melliodora#

  • White Box, E. albens#

  • Yellow Gum, E. leucoxylon

  • Spotted Gum, Corymbia maculata*

  • Swamp Mahogany, E. robusta*

  • Needle-leaf Mistletoe, Amyema cambageion**

  • River Sheoak, Casuarina cunninghamiana#

  • Box Mistletoe, A. miquelii#

  • Long-flower Mistletoe, Dendropthoe vitellina*

* present in the Lower Hunter​
# present in the Central and Upper Hunter 

Report a Regent Honeyeater sighting
If you have sighted a Regent Honeyeater in your back yard or in local bushland, please report it or seek verification from or or use the official reporting form:

All sightings are important! 

If you see this bird, if you have a camera on hand please take a photo or video (even on your phone!). If the bird has any colour bands, please note them down (if possible). Please also record the location.



































Top to bottom:

  1. Banded Regent Honeyeater adult (Mick Roderick)

  2. Long-flower Mistletoe (Eva Twarkowski)

  3. Adult feeding chick (Lachlan Hall)

  4. Adult feeding fledgling (Mick Roderick)

  5. Released bird feeding on a glut of blossoming Grey Ironbark  (Mick Roderick) 

All photos taken in the Hunter Valley.

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Not sure whether it's a Regent Honeyeater or not? Check this honeyeater ID comparison and reporting fact sheet, or click on the Image below.

Recovery Team: Captive Release and Breeding program

BirdLife Australia: Regent Honeyeater Captive Release 2022

In October 2022 50 captive bred Regent Honeyeaters were released into the Lower Hunter as part of a recovery program to boost population numbers, to prevent the species going to extinction. Updates on the release in 2022 are below.

More about the Lower Hunter Captive Breeding and Release team.


Five other Captive Release programs have released 320 birds to boost wild populations. These have occurred in in NSW, 

November 2023- 14 birds released in with wild breeding pairs (Capertee Valley), October 2022-50 birds released (Lower Hunter, NSW), October 2021- 58 birds released (Lower Hunter, NSW), June 2020 -20 birds released (Lower Hunter, NSW), April 2017- 101 birds released (Chiltern, NE Vic), April 2015- 77 birds released (Chiltern, NE Vic).


Birds are raised in zoos as "insurance populations" including Taronga (Sydney and Dubbo) and Melbourne Zoo, and released into the wild.

Captive Release Community Update #1 25 November 2022

Captive Release Community Update #2 9 December 2022
Captive Release Community Update #3 24 December 2022
Captive Release Community Update #4 31 January 2023
Captive Release Community Update #5 3 March 2023

Captive Release Community Update #6 3 April 2023

Captive Release Community Update #7 26 May 2023

Captive Release Community Update #8 7 September 2023

NSW Community Update December 2023


Regent Honeyeater Key Resources

National Recovery Plan:

Key resources


The 2022 NSW Regent Honeyeater Captive Release is delivered by the Department of Planning & Environment, BirdLife Australia and Taronga Conservation Society Australia and forms part of the national Regent Honeyeater Recovery Plan implementation. Funding is being provided by theNew South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust and Saving our Species Program, Hunter and Central Tablelands Local Land Services through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, the Commonwealth Environment Restoration Fund, as part of the Threatened Species Action Plan – Priority Species funding, Friends of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, and several generous donors and philanthropists. The release is being undertaken on land owned and managed by the Mindaribba Local Aboriginal Land Council, and BirdLife Australia recognises and is grateful for the immense contribution of Indigenous people to the knowledge and conservation of Australia’s birds, including the Regent Honeyeater.

Information source: Department of Planning and Environment,

Regent Honeyeater ID Sheet 2024.jpg
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