Regent honeyeaters were once kings of flowering gums. Now they’re on the edge of extinction. What happened?
Less than 80 years ago, regent honeyeaters ruled Australia’s flowering gum forests, with huge raucous flocks roaming from Adelaide to Rockhampton.
Now, there are less than 300 birds left in the wild. Habitat loss has pushed the survivors into little pockets across their once vast range.
Sadly, our new research shows these birds are now heading for rapid extinction. Unless we urgently boost conservation efforts, the regent honeyeater will follow the passenger pigeon into oblivion within the next 20 years.
If we let the last few die, the regent honeyeater will be only the second bird extinction on the Australian mainland since European colonisation, following the paradise parrot.
Rob Heinsohn is a Professor of Evolutionary and Conservation Biology at the Australian National University