Vertebrate fauna of SE Asia


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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2023




Fig 1 : Swinhoe's White-eye

Fig 2 : Yellow-ringed White-eye

Fig 3 : Japanese White-eye

Fig 4 : Black-capped White-eye

White-eyes form part of the family Zosteropidae (or Timaliidae). These are small, fast-moving birds which have evolved into a large number of species in the tropics. Many islands in the Indian Ocean and the Malay Archipelago stretching eastwards to the Pacific Ocean have evolved their own species.

Wikipedia lists 86 species in all, while Robson (2000) mentions 96 species. Numerous species occur in Southeast Asia, for example 24 species are listed for Indonesia alone (Strange, 2012), with many more occurring in the Philippines and on the mainland of Southeast Asia.

These birds typically have a circle of white feathers around the eye, although some species lack this feature. The head, wings and tail are typically yellow, olive or brown, and the chest and belly typically white although there are many exceptions to this colour scheme.

Their bills are relatively short and decurved, and they are known to consume a variety of food including berries and small insects. Typically their nests are small cups constructed amongst slender twigs.

Examples :

Fig 1 :
Swinhoe's White-eye
Zosterops simplex
Location : West Coast, Singapore
Habitat : Wooded, residential area
Notes : This bird is gathering soft, fibrous nesting material in early May. 

Fig 2 :
Yellow-ringed White-eye
Zosterops wallacei
Location : Flores, Indonesia
Habitat : Secondary coastal forest
Notes : This bird appeared to be searching for small insects amongst leaf litter.

Fig 3 :
Japanese White-eye (introduced)
Zosterops japonicus
Location : West Coast, Singapore
Habitat : Wooded, residential area

Fig 4 :
Black-capped White-eye
Zosterops atricapilla
Location : Mount Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo
Habitat : Montane forest

Fig 5 :
Chestnut-flanked White-eye
Zosterops erythropleurus
Location : Kaeng Krachan, Phetchaburi, Thailand
Habitat :
Forest edge
Note : Photo by Charles Currin

References :  B1, B2

Fig 5 : Chestnut-flanked White-eye

ゥ  Charles Currin