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White-Eyes: Zosteropidae

Physical Characteristics

The white-eyes are small perching birds that look very similar across the species. They have slightly rounded wings; short, pointed bills; a brush-tipped tongue that has four sides and is bordered with hairs both at the sides and at the tip; and black legs and feet. Some species have a distinct ring of tiny, dense, pure-white feathers around each eye (which appears early in life) that is divided by black feathers found between the eyes and bill. The name "white-eye" was given to the birds because of the silky white rings around their eyes. Eye color ranges from gray to brown. Overall, plumage (feathers) vary in shades of yellow-green. The upperparts of the birds are green to greenish yellow, with a gray upper back in some species. Underparts are yellowish from throat to undertail coverts (small feathers around the base of quills on wings, tail, or other parts of bird) in some species while other species are grayish to white. The color of the sides of the body varies from light gray to dark brown. Males and females are similar throughout the year, although males are larger in some species. In addition, males in some species can be more brightly colored than females when in colder climates.

Their short, thin bill is blackish, slightly decurved, curved downward, and sharply pointed. Legs are grayish to brownish. Fledglings (birds that have recently grown the feathers necessary to fly from the nest) and old birds have a pinkish color, while one-year-old birds are darker in color. Older birds molt (phase after breeding where feathers are shed and later grown back) into longer wing and tail feathers.

Continental species are generally 4.0 to 5.5 inches (10 to 14 centimeters) long, have wingspans of 2.2 to 2.6 inches (55 to 65 centimeters), and weigh between 0.3 and 0.5 ounces (9 and 15 grams). Those living in higher latitudes tend to be larger, while island species also tend to have bills, legs, and bodies that are larger than normal.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsWhite-Eyes: Zosteropidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Japanese White-eye (zosterops Japonicus): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, WHITE-EYES AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS