The Regent Honeyeater is a bird found primarily in Southeast Australia and considered to be one of the rarest birds in the world. However, experts fear that they will die out soon because they have forgotten the melodies of their species. While previously flocks of hundreds of birds could be seen all over Southeast Australia, only around 300 individuals remain in the world.
image credit: Jss367 Wikimedia Commons
With its yellow and black plumage, this species is ready to leave the nest 3-4 weeks after birth. It is only in the months that follow that the birds begin to learn the complex melody of their species. As the numbers declined, experts began to notice that the complexity of the melody diminished, and male birds could no longer reproduce the song of their species. Today, it seems that the Regent Honeyeater forgot to sing, which could endanger the species, which is increasingly close to extinction.
image credit: Brian McCauley/Flickr
Like other bird species, the Honeyeater sings to communicate with its own, to signal dangers, and to attract females during courtship and mating. Birds learn to sing by imitation and by listening, much like children: in contact with other adults of the species, they begin to learn the melody, but, as individuals have remarkably diminished, they now have less opportunity to frequent birds of the same species and therefore to hear their song. Australian bird watchers have even noted that male specimens are starting to mimic the songs of other species., with which they obviously came into contact. But female specimens of the species are not attracted to other melodies, so the possibilities for mating and reproduction are very low.
image credit: Tony Morris/Flickr
According to experts, the Regent Honeyeater has lost 12% of its population, which is extremely worrying. What could be the solution to avoid extinction? Some scientists attempt to teach captive-bred birds the melody by playing recordings of the song. They will then be released back into the wild, where they can hopefully attract females and breed. What will be the future of such a rare species?