A critically endangered bird is a record-breaker after flying 350km in just three months.
The regent honeyeater, nicknamed “OG-Bling”, smashed the previous record for his species, which is thought to be around 40km in three months.
OG-Bling was spotted near Coffs Harbour on the NSW North Coast in late July, having last been seen near Newcastle in the state’s Hunter Region in April.
“Never before has a regent honeyeater been recorded flying so far in so short a time. This bird has blown the record out of the water,” BirdLife Australia NSW woodland bird program manager Mick Roderick said.
Keen birdwatchers were able to identify OG-Bling by his distinctive leg bands – orange and green on one leg and metal and hot pink on the other.
Scientists estimate there may be as few as 250 regent honeyeaters left in the wild.
The bird has a black head, neck and upper breast. It has a lemon-yellow back and its breast is scaled black. Its wings are black with conspicuous yellow patches, and its black tail is edged with yellow.
OG-Bling was one of 50 regent honeyeaters released in the Lower Hunter Valley in November 2022.
NSW Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe was delighted with OG-Bling’s achievement.
“It’s wonderful to see one of the country’s rarest birds survive and thrive after being released into the wild,” she said.
“Thanks to the state’s citizen scientists for keeping a keen eye out for this celebrity regent honeyeater and I hope they find many more.”
The regent honeyeaters are being bred as part of a conservation partnership between the NSW government’s Saving Our Species Program, Taronga Conservation Society Australia and BirdLife Australia.
They are mainly bred across two sites, Taronga Zoo in Sydney and Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo in the state’s Central West.
Dr Monique Van Sluys from Taronga Conservation Society Australia said OG-Bling’s famous flight was a big encouragement to her team.
“After more than two decades working with this iconic species, to know we’re making improvements and seeing record-breaking results motivates us to keep working with our partners to ensure this beautiful bird flourishes,” she said.
All sightings of regent honeyeaters should be reported to BirdLife Australia online or by calling 1800 621 056.