Critically endangered bird sighted in Dubbo

A critically endangered Regent Honeyeater has been spotted in Dubbo for the first time in 5 years coinciding with the start of a new project to boost numbers of the bird species in the wild.

Regent honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia)

Keen birdwatcher Tim Collins was surprised and excited to see the rare species in his backyard.

"I was sitting in the lounge room and I saw it in a tree and thought hmm that's different.

"I grabbed the binoculars and a camera and managed to snap off a few shots before it flew away.

"While I do a lot of bird watching I have never seen one before.

"It really was the chance of a lifetime," he said.

DPIE Environment, Energy and Science Threatened Species Officer Sarah Bell said the find was significant.

"The drought has taken its toll on nectar this year, meaning we have seen fewer Regent Honeyeaters in their usual sites such as the Capertee Valley near Lithgow.

"With estimates suggesting fewer than 400 birds exist in the wild, it's great to receive reports of sightings so we can track where they are.

"Coincidentally the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is working with Taronga Western Plains Zoo and the Regent Honeyeater Recovery Team on a zoo-based conservation breeding program and just last week the first birds were released into the Zoo's new aviaries in Dubbo.

"This wild sighting came before the arrival of the zoo-bred birds, so it's quite a coincidence but pleasing nevertheless.

"The Regent Honeyeater conservation breeding program is part of the NSW Government's Saving Our Species program that aims to secure threatened species in the wild in NSW over the next 100 years.

"We are always keen to hear about unusual wildlife sightings so they can be entered into the wildlife BioNet Atlas, which provides us with valuable information about the location of native wildlife," Dr Bell said.