26 September 2023

Honeyeating birds find safer new home

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The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has released 18 Helmeted Honeyeaters into their new forest home to help boost the wild population of the critically endangered birds.

Celebrating the release, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio said the birds had been released into a special patch of forest within Yarra Ranges National Park, which houses one of two wild populations of the State’s faunal emblem.

“Only 250 Helmeted Honeyeaters currently exist in the wild,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“Coming from a Healesville Sanctuary breeding program, the birds join the 32 Helmeted Honeyeaters that founded the second site east of Warburton in August last year,” she said.

“The new habitat is crucial to the Helmeted Honeyeater’s survival, as it increases genetic diversity, protects the species against disease and environmental disasters such as bushfire.”

Ms D’Ambrosio said three chicks had already successfully hatched into the new wild population, “raising hopes for the long-term survival of the species.”

The Minister said the new winged-residents had been fitted with tiny radio transmitters so that they could be closely monitored.

“Later this month, several more birds bred at Healesville Sanctuary will also be released at Yellingbo Nature Conservation Area to further increase genetic diversity,” she said.

“Since 1989, the combined efforts of the Victorian Government and a host of conservation partners has prevented the extinction of this charismatic bird and seen the last remaining wild population grow from just 25 to 250 birds.”

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