It might still officially be winter (and feels like it too), but for Healesville Sanctuary’s Helmeted Honeyeaters (He Ho’s for short), spring is definitely in the air!
Now that the winter solstice has passed, breeding season is ready to begin. Keepers have been busy for the past few weeks putting males and females together in new pairs, and making sure they like each other. This can be a challenge, as He Hos are feisty, territorial birds and it may take them some time to adjust to a new roommate! We need to watch new pairings to make sure one bird doesn’t chase its new partner away from the food bowls, or exhaust them with too much pursuit around the aviary.
Many established pairs remain together. In the wild, He Hos may keep the same partner for many seasons, but sometimes it’s necessary to separate a pair which has produced lots of young in the past. We will then re-pair them with new partners, so that the genetic combinations in their offspring will have greater variety, and therefore make the population more resilient in the long term. (You didn’t know zookeeping could be so technical, did you?)
Once a new pair has stabilised they are quick to turn their attention to the all-important task of breeding: nest-building, egg-laying and raising chicks. We’ll tell you more about that in the future… and let you know when we have our first eggs and chicks for this breeding season!
honey eaters are very pretty