HUNTER stocks of an endangered species have received a boost after 20 regent honeyeaters were released into the wild.
The bird is one of the nation's most endangered species, and Environment Minister Matt Kean said the birds released in the lower Hunter was the largest release conservation-bred regent honeyeaters ever.
"Regent honeyeater numbers are at critical levels with only about 350 birds remaining," Mr Kean said.
"The birds were released onto private property in the Lower Hunter, where it's hoped they will mix with the wild population and breed.
"The fires over summer have further impacted the breeding and foraging habitat of regent honeyeaters, making this release and ongoing conservation breeding even more important."
The birds were raised in Taronga Zoo's specialised Sydney facilities, where the regent honeyeater has been bred for 20 years. It is hoped the injection of new birds into the wild population will help create a self-sustaining breeding flock.
The medium-sized black and yellow birds feed on nectar from eucalpyts and mistletoe.
The species was once widespread across south-eastern Australia but now exists only across limited sites betweeen northeastern Victoria and southern Queensland.