The Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network (RBCN) is an affiliation of individuals, groups and organisations dedicated to the conservation of the Richmond birdwing butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia) and its host plants, the birdwing butterfly vine (Pararistolochia praevenosa) and mountain aristolochia (P. laheyana).
The RBCN strives to achieve this by establishing vine refuges, as well as creating awareness and support for conservation in the broader community.
The Network partners with other like-minded organisations and provides members with science-based information to cultivate and care for birdwing butterfly vines.
There are lots of different ways you can get involved and help the Richmond birdwing butterfly.
- Join the RBCN
- Subscribe to the RBCN’s “Birdwing News” ‒ A free e-bulletin from the RBCN
- Join the RBCN Facebook group
- Symbolically ‘adopt’ a Richmond birdwing butterfly
- Purchase our Richmond birdwing merchandise. Proceeds go to support the work of the RBCN
- Plant vines in identified SEQ habitat corridor (refer to map below)
Recovering the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly – Coordinated Corridors Project
The RBCN has completed work on a detailed desktop map of targeted Richmond birdwing habitat corridor locations across South East Queensland. Key locations and properties within the defined area have been ground-truthed for mapping accuracy and suitability as vine planting locations.
The RBCN has funds for 1,000 vines to be planted within the corridor where suitability is determined.
Support for this critical corridor project has been provided by a grant from the Bank Australia Impact Fund. Bank Australia supports projects that create positive social and environmental impact across Australia and the RBCN is indebted for the support with this project.
Ongoing projects & activities
Captive Rearing and Release Project
In 2008, the Department of Environment and Science, along with the RBCN and David Fleay Wildlife Park, began a joint project to help conserve the Richmond birdwing butterfly using a captive breeding and release strategy. Under the breeding program, Richmond birdwings from geographically separate sources have been mated with the aim of producing more genetically diverse offspring. These captive-reared progenies have been reintroduced at selected sites to help restore wild populations. Following the first releases in 2010, evidence of natural breeding by the butterfly and more than a dozen flying adults were seen in the Kin Kin and Cootharaba areas of the Sunshine Coast for the first time in almost two decades.
Since the program was initiated, more than 350 Richmond birdwing individuals, mostly larvae and pupae, have been reintroduced across nine sites in south-east Queensland.
In May 2018, the Swallowtail and Birdwing Butterfly Trust generally donated £500 to the RBCN to put towards the acquisition of vines to support the Richmond birdwing captive breeding and release project. Read the full report here (pdf).
In 2019 the Swallowtail and Birdwing Butterfly Trust further provided a small grant to Wildlife Queensland to assist in the captive breeding and release of the Richmond birdwing in eastern Australia, complementing the support being given by local communities and government.
Critical breeding work as part of this project is currently being carried out at David Fleay Wildlife Park.
Watch this video to learn more about the amazing Richmond birdwing butterfly and the captive breeding and release program being conducted by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science and supported by the RBCN and David Fleay Wildlife Park.
Wildlife Queensland 500 Vines Project
In 2017, Wildlife Queensland launched its Bring Back the Birdwing: 500 Vines appeal to raise funds to plant 500 vines essential to the survival of this vulnerable native species in the Tamborine-Albert River Corridor. Working with Logan City Council, the project involved propagating and growing the vines in selected nurseries, planting them in strategically chosen locations and then maintaining them to ensure they have the best opportunity to survive.
Community workshops and field days
- Restoring Richmond birdwing habitats
- Supporting scientific research
- Hands-on school projects
- Creating flagship corridors by planting vines
- Educational publications
- Removing Dutchman’s pipevines
Plant a birdwing butterfly vine to help save the Richmond birdwing butterfly
The Richmond birdwing regional habitat corridor map (Fig 1.) identifies a corridor in South East Queensland that needs vines to save the species.
Please email email@example.com if your property falls within the orange or green areas on the map and you would like to plant a vine to help build a birdwing corridor.
Click on the map image to the left to enlarge. Or download the map (pdf)
RBCN recommended nurseries where you can purchase birdwing butterfly vines.
February 2022 – We need birdwing vine fruit (seed pods). Can you help?
Wildlife Queensland’s Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network distributes tens of thousands of seeds of the caterpillar food vine Pararistolochia praevenosa annually to aid recovery of the endangered Richmond birdwing butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia) … but we still need more!
December 2021 – Sightings soar as birdwings return
Anecdotal sightings of Richmond birdwing butterflies are rising as we continue our mission to ‘Bring Back the Birdwing’ and plant 1000 vines in specifically chosen corridors throughout South East Queensland.
March 2021 – Richmond Birdwing Butterfly Webinar
Wildlife Queensland and special guest presenters Dr Ian Gynther (Department of Environment & Science) and Richard Bull (Richard Birdwing Conservation Network) provide a fascinating look at Australia’s largest sub-tropical butterfly, the Richmond birdwing butterfly.
February 2021 – RBCN: planting vine corridors to connect vulnerable birdwing butterfly populations in SEQ
The RBCN and Moreton Bay Regional Council hosted a birdwing butterfly vine planting and care workshop earlier this month for Land for Wildlife property owners in the Moreton Bay region.
March 2020 – RBCN visits David Fleay Wildlife Park
The RBCN recently visited David Fleay Wildlife Park on Queensland’s Gold Coast where a Richmond birdwing captive breeding program is currently underway.
June 2019 – RBCN launches new habitat corridor to save the Richmond birdwing butterfly
Members of the RBCN and Samford Eco-Corridor joined forces on Sunday, 9 June to launch a new habitat corridor project aimed at helping save the Richmond birdwing butterfly.
June 2018 – Three thumbs up for projects
In early 2018, Logan City Council contributed funds and labour to help the RBCN plant over 230 birdwing butterfly vines in five locations south-east of Brisbane.
July 2018 – Banking on the birdwing
Wildlife Queensland’s Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network is proud to have been selected as one of 12 recipients of a Bank Australia 2018 Customer Grant to help plant a corridor of birdwing butterfly vines between Samford and Woodford in South East Queensland.
Resources & information
- Back from the Brink ‒ Richmond birdwing (featuring RBCN committee member Dr Ian Gynther)
- Richmond birdwing butterfly captive breeding and release program
Factsheets and brochures:
- Richmond birdwing butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia)
- Birdwing butterfly vine (Pararistolochia praevenosa) and mountain aristolochia (P. laheyana)
- Cultivate and care for birdwing butterfly vines
- RBCN recommended nurseries where you can purchase birdwing butterfly vines
Price includes FREE shipping within Australia. Proceeds go to help the recovery of the Richmond birdwing butterfly through the work of Wildlife Queensland’s RBCN.
- ‘Birdwings’ New Home’ – Children’s book by Lynette Reilly and Lois Hughes
- Wind-up Butterfly toy – Take to the skies with this brightly coloured wind-up birdwing butterfly toy
- Wildlife t-shirts – Order your own Richmond birdwing butterfly design
Reports & publications:
- Host vines for use in the captive breeding and release program – project report (Oct 2019)
- Pyper, W. (2001). Changing habitat. Ecos 106: 22-25
- Pyper, W. (2002). Butterfly effect: rethinking butterfly conservation. Wildlife Australia Magazine 39(4): 14-17.
- Sands, D. (1996). Birdwing blues. Wildlife Australia Magazine 33(1): 7-9.
- Sands, D.P.A. and Scott, S. (eds) (2002). Conservation of Birdwing Butterflies. SciComEd Pty Ltd, Marsden, Qld.
- Sands, D. (2008). Conserving the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly over two decades: Where to next? Ecological Management & Restoration 9(1): 4-16
For more information on WPSQ’s other projects, email or phone +61 (7) 3844 0129.