TWO Regent Honeyeater chicks have been born near Wangaratta, more than 50 kilometres from where their parents were released in April.
It is the first confirmed successful wild fledging of young from a pair of captive release birds since the threatened species project began in 2008.
Department of Environment and Primary Industries senior biodiversity officer Glen Johnson travelled from Wodonga to check on the birds yesterday and described it as “fantastic news”.
“It shows not only that captive released birds can survive and move through the landscape, but importantly they can successfully breed which is great for the species’ conservation,” he said.
“The fledglings have been out of the nest for one week now and are thriving in a bush housing estate at Hamilton Park, which features remnant trees with heaps of flowering natives.
“The parents are one of five pairs of birds from the April captive release that have attempted to breed.
“The parents were first recorded from field observations as a pair in early-September.
“They attempted to breed twice around Chiltern during October before travelling more than 50 kilometres.”
Mr Johnson said the two previous nests were abandoned so a successful hatching now was an incredible result considering the hot, dry conditions at this time of year.
“In the wild, Regents are finicky breeders and prone to abandon nests,” he said.
“Predation, rainfall or storm events early in nest construction, or being harassed or having nest material robbed by other bird species are just some of the reasons for failed attempts.
“Throughout this year, we have recorded 10 nesting attempts from five pairs of captive released birds including three that made it to egg incubation and two where chicks hatched.
“But this is the only one we have been able to record that’s successfully added new birds into the wild population.”
Mr Johnson said the Hamilton Park estate between Wangaratta and Glenrowan has abundant water supply and food sources.
The department was alerted about the birds and went to confirm they were some of those released this year.
There are reports of banded birds travelling as far afield as Shepparton.