Nature conservation

Threatened species

Regent Honeyeater - profile

Indicative distribution

   Loading map...
The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Anthochaera phrygia
Conservation status in NSW: Critically Endangered
Commonwealth status: Critically Endangered
Gazetted date: 05 Nov 2010
Profile last updated: 18 Apr 2024


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.


The Regent Honeyeater mainly inhabits temperate woodlands and open forests of the inland slopes of south-east Australia. Birds are also found in drier coastal woodlands and forests in some years. Once recorded between Adelaide and the central coast of Queensland, its range has contracted dramatically in the last 30 years to between north-eastern Victoria and south-eastern Queensland. There are very few breeding regions remaining: north-east Victoria (Chiltern-Albury), and in NSW at Capertee Valley, Mudgee/Wollar, Lower Hunter Valley and the Bundarra-Barraba region. In NSW the distribution is very patchy and mainly confined to the breeding areas and surrounding fragmented woodlands. In some years flocks converge on flowering coastal woodlands and forests.

Habitat and ecology

  • The Regent Honeyeater is 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.
  • Every few years non-breeding flocks are seen foraging in flowering coastal Swamp Mahogany and Spotted Gum forests, particularly on the central coast and occasionally on the upper north coast. Birds are occasionally seen on the south coast.
  • In the last 10 years Regent Honeyeaters have been recorded in urban areas around Albury where woodlands tree species such as Mugga Ironbark and Yellow Box were planted 20 years ago.
  • The Regent Honeyeater is a generalist forager, although it feeds mainly on the nectar from a relatively small number of eucalypts that produce high volumes of nectar. Key eucalypt species include Mugga Ironbark, Yellow Box, White Box and Swamp Mahogany. Other tree species may be regionally important. For example the Lower Hunter Spotted Gum forests have recently been demonstrated to support regular breeding events. Flowering of associated species such as Thin-leaved Stringybark Eucalyptus eugenioides and other Stringybark species, and Broad-leaved Ironbark E. fibrosa can also contribute important nectar flows at times. Nectar and fruit from the mistletoes Amyema miquelii, A. pendula and A. cambagei are also utilised. When nectar is scarce lerp and honeydew can comprise a large proportion of the diet. Insects make up about 15% of the total diet and are important components of the diet of nestlings.
  • Colour-banding of Regent Honeyeater has shown that the species can undertake large-scale nomadic movements in the order of hundreds of kilometres. However, the exact nature of these movements is still poorly understood. It is likely that movements are dependent on spatial and temporal flowering and other resource patterns. To successfully manage the recovery of this species a full understanding of the habitats used in the non-breeding season is critical.
  • There are several known key breeding areas, four of them in NSW - Capertee Valley, Lower Hunter Valley, Mudgee/Wollar and Bundarra-Barraba regions. The species breeds between July and January in Box-Ironbark and other temperate woodlands and riparian gallery forest. Regent Honeyeaters usually nest in horizontal branches or forks in tall mature eucalypts and Sheoaks. Also nest in mistletoe haustoria.
  • An open cup-shaped nest is constructed of bark, grass, twigs and wool by the female. Two or three eggs are laid and incubated by the female for 14 days. Nestlings are brooded and fed by both parents at an average rate of 23 times per hour and fledge after 16 days. Fledglings fed by both parents 29 times per hour.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Brigalow Belt SouthLiverpool Plains Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthLiverpool Range Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthNorthern Basalts Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthTalbragar Valley Known None
NandewarInverell Basalts Known None
NandewarKaputar Known None
NandewarNandewar Northern Complex Known None
NandewarPeel Known None
New England TablelandsArmidale Plateau Known None
New England TablelandsBeardy River Hills Predicted None
New England TablelandsBinghi Plateau Predicted None
New England TablelandsBundarra Downs Known None
New England TablelandsDeepwater Downs Predicted None
New England TablelandsEastern Nandewars Known None
New England TablelandsEbor Basalts Predicted None
New England TablelandsGlenn Innes-Guyra Basalts Known None
New England TablelandsMoredun Volcanics Predicted None
New England TablelandsNightcap Predicted None
New England TablelandsNortheast Forest Lands Predicted None
New England TablelandsRound Mountain Predicted None
New England TablelandsSevern River Volcanics Known None
New England TablelandsStanthorpe Plateau Predicted None
New England TablelandsTenterfield Plateau Predicted None
New England TablelandsTingha Plateau Known None
New England TablelandsWalcha Plateau Known None
New England TablelandsWongwibinda Plateau Predicted None
New England TablelandsYarrowyck-Kentucky Downs Known None
NSW North CoastBarrington Predicted None
NSW North CoastCarrai Plateau Predicted None
NSW North CoastCataract Known None
NSW North CoastChaelundi Known None
NSW North CoastCoffs Coast and Escarpment Known None
NSW North CoastComboyne Plateau Predicted None
NSW North CoastDalmorton Predicted None
NSW North CoastEllerston Known None
NSW North CoastGuy Fawkes Predicted None
NSW North CoastKaruah Manning Known None
NSW North CoastMacleay Gorges Predicted None
NSW North CoastMacleay Hastings Known None
NSW North CoastMummel Escarpment Predicted None
NSW North CoastRocky River Gorge Predicted None
NSW North CoastTomalla Predicted None
NSW North CoastUpper Hunter Known None
NSW North CoastUpper Manning Predicted None
NSW North CoastWashpool Predicted None
NSW North CoastYuraygir Known None
NSW South Western SlopesCapertee Valley Known None
NSW South Western SlopesInland Slopes Known None
NSW South Western SlopesLower Slopes Known None
OceanBatemans Shelf Known None
OceanHawkesbury Shelf Known None
OceanManning Shelf Known None
OceanTweed-Moreton Known None
Other StateACT Known None
Other StateJervis Bay Territory Known None
Other StateQLD Known None
Other StateSA Known None
Other StateVIC Known None
RiverinaMurray Fans Known None
RiverinaMurrumbidgee Known None
South East CornerBateman Known None
South East CornerSouth East Coastal Ranges Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBathurst Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBondo Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBungonia Known None
South Eastern HighlandsCapertee Uplands Known None
South Eastern HighlandsCrookwell Known None
South Eastern HighlandsHill End Known None
South Eastern HighlandsKanangra Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsKybeyan-Gourock Known None
South Eastern HighlandsMonaro Known None
South Eastern HighlandsMurrumbateman Known None
South Eastern HighlandsOberon Known None
South Eastern HighlandsOrange Known None
South Eastern QueenslandBurringbar-Conondale Ranges Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Lowlands Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Sandstones Known None
South Eastern QueenslandScenic Rim Known None
South Eastern QueenslandSunshine Coast-Gold Coast Lowlands Predicted None
South Eastern QueenslandWoodenbong Known None
Sydney BasinBurragorang Known None
Sydney BasinCumberland Known None
Sydney BasinEttrema Known None
Sydney BasinHunter Known None
Sydney BasinIllawarra Known None
Sydney BasinJervis Known None
Sydney BasinKerrabee Known None
Sydney BasinPittwater Known None
Sydney BasinSydney Cataract Known None
Sydney BasinWollemi Known None
Sydney BasinWyong Known None
Sydney BasinYengo Known None