A record number of regent honeyeaters are being released into Chiltern-Mount Pilot National Park and the conservation program’s success has prompted plans to expand into NSW.
A large crowd gathered on Wednesday to see the first half of 100 birds bred at Taronga Zoo take to the wild, with the remainder to be released on Sunday.
BirdLife Australia Regent Honeyeater National Recovery co-ordinator Dean Ingwersen said aside from a trial in the Capertee Valley of NSW the project had mainly focused on Chiltern, but this would soon change.
“We started in 2008 with 27 birds, in 2015 we released 77 and then we had a target of 100,” he said.
“The location (for the 2019 release) is not determined; we’ve proven the model works in Chiltern, so it’s incumbent to test it elsewhere.
“We’ll shift focus a little and try a couple of new sites in NSW, still releasing birds here to keep the momentum.”
Taronga Zoo Bird Department unit supervisor Michael Shiels said a project partnership like the one between the zoo, BirdLife Australia, the Victorian government and others would be key to results in NSW.
“One of the reasons for the success is the trust we have amongst the three different organisations,” he said.
“Coming up to May we’ll start looking at pairing birds for the 2019 release.
“(Releasing in NSW), we’ll be breaking new ground again.”
While the team at Taronga Zoo will have a short break before the breeding begins, work has only just begun for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
DELWP senior biodiversity officer Glen Johnson said a team of volunteers would now be following the movements of the national park’s newest residents.
“We are busily signing up more people to be involved with what’s going to be a three to six-month monitoring program,” he said.
“Half of the birds being released have radio transmitters for tracking and volunteers have a role monitoring the threatened species.
“We’re using a new smartphone app to enable us to record data this time.
“We want to thank the community for being on board – there’s lots of groups involved, in particular the Friends of Chiltern-Mount Pilot National Park, and our partner organisations – it’s a great collaborative program.”