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White-Eyes: Zosteropidae

Behavior And Reproduction

White-eyes are very social birds, living in wandering groups when not breeding. White-eyes that live on continents migrate regularly to lower latitudes, though sometimes some of the population remains behind. When breeding, they will drop out of the flock, returning after breeding is finished. They are often seen huddling, resting, foraging, bathing, and roosting together, while sunning is done alone. Breeding mates, parent-offspring, young siblings, and prospective partners often preen each other (grooming of feathers with the bill). Wing fluttering and bill clattering are part of their daily activities, which shows rank and status in flocks and decides who has the better chance to reproduce and to survive. Their warbles sound like a rich melody, and are similar across all species. Calls of both sexes are long and sad sounding. Other calls are high-pitched and short, with constant exchanges just before dawn between birds of a flock that are migrating. Other specialized calls include ones for alarm, roosting, begging, huddling, aggression, and distress. Bills are often clattered when aggression is showed.

Courtship involves horizontal wing quivering and some activities that portray nest building (without actually building a nest). Male birds sing for up to twenty minutes at dawn throughout the breeding season, while some singing is also performed at dusk and occasionally throughout the day. Males also have a courtship warble that is softer sounding than the warble sounded during nonbreeding times.

Breeding season usually begins at the start of the summer rains in September or October, and ends six months later. Birds usually mate for life, and breed in small territories. Information about nests and eggs are known for only about half of the species. What is known is that nests are cup-shaped and constructed from plant fibers. They are usually slung from a small fork under the cover of vegetation at any height. The glossy eggs are colored from whitish to pale blue or bluish green, with a few species having spotted eggs. Eggs measure 0.55 by 0.43 inches (14 by 11 millimeters) to 0.79 by 0.59 inches (20 by 15 millimeters). Females lay from one to five eggs, with three being average. The incubation period (time that it takes to sit on eggs before they hatch) last ten to twelve days. Both parents help in the construction of the nest, in incubation, and with feeding of the young. The chicks are about 0.07 ounces (2 grams) when first hatched. They are fed insects at first, but are given fruits at about the time of fledgling. Up to five clutches (group of eggs hatched together) can be laid in one breeding season. A new nest is usually constructed for each clutch. Parents often take care of two clutches at a time. The nestling period (time necessary to take care of young birds unable to leave nest) is eleven to thirteen days.

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