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Healesville Sanctuary

Stellar season brings in milestone anniversary for Helmeted Honeyeater's

6 March 2019

For 30 years, Healesville Sanctuary’s dedication to Victoria’s bird emblem - Helmeted Honeyeater - has not waned. As the 2018-19 breeding season draws to a close, keepers are celebrating the birth of 30 critically endangered Helmeted Honeyeaters.

Healesville Sanctuary keepers have used every moment of their 30 years working with Helmeted Honeyeater’s to build upon their knowledge of the species, resulting in a significant contribution to their ongoing recovery in the wild.

“It’s ironic, but we’ve bred 30 birds in our thirtieth year of the program, our best breeding season in a decade,” said Helmeted Honeyeater Keeper Meagan Lane.

“These chicks are fantastic news for the wild population,” Ms Lane said. “Each of these young birds has an important role to play for their species and will go on to become part of the captive breeding program, or be released to the wild at Yellingbo.
“Helmeted Honeyeater’s are fast-growing, so most of the chicks are now independent from their parents, we only have a few still left in the nest with mum and dad,” Ms Lane said.

Once common across Victoria, Helmeted Honeyeater’s are now only found in a single location, 661 hectares of land in Yellingbo, just 50 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD. The last remaining home for these critically endangered birds is both an oasis of hope and a constant threat, with the prospect of fire or disease a real risk.

Helmeted Honeyeater’s are a unique Honeyeater subspecies, distinguished by the golden-crested cap of feathers on their heads. Australia is renowned for its abundance of unique plants and animals, with many species not found anywhere else in the world. Sadly, many of these species are at immediate risk of extinction due to a range of ongoing threats.

“Visitors to Healesville Sanctuary are incredibly lucky to be able to see Helmeted Honeyeater’s for themselves in our Fighting Extinction aviary,” Ms Lane said. ”Each visit to Healesville Sanctuary directly contributes to the recovery of local endangered species like the Helmeted Honeyeater.”

As part of the Helmeted Honeyeater Recovery Team, Zoos Victoria is working alongside government agencies, community groups, scientists, universities, trusts, foundations and passionate supporters to bring this species back from the brink of extinction.You can find out more about these precious birds here.