In this article Eileen reflects on the beginnings of the regent honeyeater captive breeding program way back in 1995
The cherry picker reached the top of the tall Ironbark in the gully.
With Chris Hibbard from Taronga Zoo aboard, holding an ice cream container, the bucket was manoeuvered into position close to the Regents’ nest. Gently Chris removed the Regents’ nest with its precious contents of two blind three day old chicks and placed it safely in the ice cream container for the descent. Once on the ground they were fed with insects dipped in nectivore mix using a tiny pair of tweezers. These insects had been collected earlier by zoo staff. We had been instructed to be silent as the tiny nestlings must not bond to humans or human sounds. After feeding they were placed in a little humidicrib and whisked off to Taronga Zoo.
And so began this ambitious programme to breed Regent Honeyeaters in captivity. The photograph shows those two tiny nestlings at their fledging. They were named Brick Kiln One and Brick Kiln Two after the track along which they were taken from in Chiltern Regional Park as it was then named.
In 1995 Scott Jessup and Eileen Collins were given the task of finding and monitoring two Regent Honeyeater nests to begin this programme. Our brief was to “ Find and monitor two nests until hatching time then liaise with Taronga Zoo for the collection of the nestlings.” The first two nests were victims of an horrendous storm which ripped through the area bringing limbs down across the nests destroying them and leaving the nestlings dead on the ground. The search for new nests began again. One was found close by and another on Greenhill Road. Both contained two nestlings. These four little Regents became part of the founding stock for this breeding programme. Jocelyn Barker of Taronga Zoo and Chris Hibbard were responsible for the care of this precious cargo. Natasha Schedvin was the Regent Honeyeater Co-ordinator at that time. Peter Menkhorst was the driving force behind the recovery programme. So in 2008, thirteen years on, we are celebrating the results of a successful captive breeding programme