The birds and the bees: Seeking information and observations on some of our most endangered bird species

BirdLife Australia is working with North West Local Land Services to monitor and support Australia’s most threatened bird species. These birds often share important nectar resources with honeybees, which presents a unique opportunity for monitoring and conservation.

This project is supported by North West Local Land Services, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

North West Local Land Services Senior Land Services Officer – Natural Resource Management, Leonie Coleman said beekeepers share our values in standing for the preservation of native flora.

“They have an extensive understanding of the relationship between our flowering eucalypts and the animals that depend on these flowering resources,” Leonie said.

“In fact, beekeeper knowledge has been essential in helping us decide where and when to do releases of zoo-bred Regent Honeyeaters; our most endangered woodland bird, which happens to rely heavily on eucalypt blossom to survive.”

Birdlife Australia’s NSW Woodland Birds Project Officer Candice Larkin said BirdLife Australia has been collecting records of Swift Parrots (on the mainland) and Regent Honeyeaters via targeted citizen-science surveys for more than 25 years.

“Given the relationship between the birds and the bees, beekeepers may be able to contribute to our knowledge of the distribution and breeding of these highly endangered species,” Candice said.

The Regent Honeyeater is a medium-sized honeyeater, with a blackish body embroidered with yellow and white, and flashes of yellow in the wings and tail. It has a patchy distribution across New South Wales, with three key breeding areas: the Capertee Valley (and other parts of the Blue Mountains such as the Burragorang Valley), the Upper/Lower Hunter Valley and the Bundarra-Barraba region. Regent Honeyeaters are known as ‘rich-patch nomads’, as they will move large distances around south-eastern Australia in search of flowering events in key tree species.

Further information, including a species ID guide, key eucalypt resources and management strategies can be found here: https://www.birdlife.org.au/projects/woodland-birds-for-biodiversity/regent-honeyeater-wl

The Swift Parrot is a slim, medium-sized parrot, with a bright green body and dark blue patch on its crown. The forehead to throat is crimson, and there is a crimson patch under wing.  Swift Parrots breed only in Tasmania and then fly across Bass Strait to forage on the flowering eucalypts in open box–ironbark forests of the Australian mainland. While on the mainland, they are nomadic, spending weeks or months at some sites and only a few hours at others, determined by the supply of nectar and leaf-borne food sources, such as lerp.

Further information, including a species ID guide, key eucalypt resources and management strategies can be found here: https://www.birdlife.org.au/projects/woodland-birds-for-biodiversity/swift-parrot-search

“We are asking beekeepers to be observant for these two species and to notify us if they believe they have witnessed a potential sighting or breeding event,” Candice said.

If beekeepers have any queries about either of these species and how to best manage a breeding or competitive feeding event or would simply like to notify us of a key eucalypt flowering event, they can contact Candice Larkin at BirdLife Australia (candice.larkin@birdlife.org.au).

If beekeepers would like to report a Regent Honeyeater or Swift Parrot sighting, they can call BirdLife Australia at 03 9347 0757 or email woodlandbirds@birdlife.org.au

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