A largely arboreal bird, the regent honeyeater generally forages amongst the crown of the largest trees, using its strong legs and sharp claws to clamber agilely around the flowers and foliage, often feeding upside-down (5). Using an elongated, protrusible tongue with a brush-like tip, it extracts nectar from the flowers of a variety of eucalypt species, although it also eats insects and their exudates, including the sugar-rich honeydew. When nectar is abundant, the regent honeyeater may feed almost exclusively from flowers, but when nectar is in short supply, or whilst feeding hatchlings, it may feed primarily on insects, or may consume fruits and buds (6). Whilst feeding, flocks of up to 30 birds may congregate around flowering trees, occasionally with closely related species, which cooperate to defend the feeding territory (2).
The regent honeyeater is thought to live to around 10 years in the wild, but reaches sexual maturity within its first year. The timing of breeding corresponds to flowering in key eucalypt and mistletoe species, but peaks between September and November (6). Breeding pairs are monogamous and aggressively defend their breeding grounds from related species, often returning to the same area each season (5) (6). A cup shaped nest of dry bark and grass, bound by spider webs, is usually constructed in the crown of a tall eucalypt tree, and two to three pinkish-red eggs are incubated by the female for some 12 to 15 days. The young birds will fledge from the nest 13 to 17 days after hatching, and will continue to be fed by the parents for a further three to four weeks (6).
In response to the timing of flowering in a number of eucalypt species, the nomadic regent honeyeater undergoes a series of complex movements, and is capable of travelling very large distances. Typically, birds move northwards in autumn, and concentrate into breeding areas. This is followed by a southward migration in early spring, as birds move towards sites with reliable peaks in nectar production (6).