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White-Eyes: Zosteropidae

Japanese White-eye (zosterops Japonicus): Species Account

Physical characteristics: Japanese white-eyes have an olive-green back, pale gray underparts, and lemon-yellow throat and undertail coverts. They are about 4.7 inches (12 centimeters) long, and weigh about 0.4 ounces (11 grams). Their wing size is between 20.5 and 25.6 inches (52 and 65 centimeters), and the tail length is between 13.4 and 18.1 inches (34 and 46 centimeters).

Geographic range: Japanese white-eyes are distributed in the Japanese islands, China, Taiwan, Hainan Island, and the Philippines. They have been introduced into Hawaii and Bonin Island.

During the breeding season, each breeding pair of Japanese white-eyes defends a small nesting territory. After the breeding season, the birds form small flocks of numerous species. (Illustration by Wendy Baker. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: Japanese white-eyes live in broadleaf evergreen forests and deciduous forests on lowlands and foothills of mountains. They are found from sea level to the upper canopies of forests. The birds are also found on cultivated lands and gardens.

Diet: The diet of Japanese white-eyes consist of arthropods (invertebrate animal with jointed limbs), soft fruits, berries, and nectar.

Behavior and reproduction: After breeding season, the birds form small flocks of numerous species, often for foraging. They are partially migratory birds, moving to villages and suburban gardens in the winter. Males sing beautiful songs. Japanese white-eyes breed in the spring, with each breeding pair defending a small nesting territory. Cup-shaped nests are hung from a fork of shrubs. Females lay three to four eggs, which are incubated for about eleven days.

Japanese white-eyes and people: People keep males in cages in order to enjoy their songs. The birds are often found in Japanese literature.

Conservation status: Japanese white-eyes are not threatened. They are common in most parts, but in some remote areas the birds are vulnerable. ∎



del Hoyo, Josep, Andrew Elliott, Jordi Sargatal, et al., eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, 1992.

Dickinson, Edward C., ed. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, 3rd ed. Princeton, NJ and Oxford, U.K.: Princeton University Press, 2003.

Forshaw, Joseph, ed. Encyclopedia of Birds, 2nd ed. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1998.

Harrison, Colin James Oliver. Birds of the World. London and New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1993.

Perrins, Christopher M., and Alex L. A. Middleton, eds. The Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Facts on File, 1985.

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