White-eyes – Zosteropidae Family

Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) by Ian

Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) by Ian

I find the White-eyes fascinating little birds that have such a neat visible eye. The Lord has created another bird kind that has been obeying the command that it was given.

So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” (Genesis 1:21-22 NKJV)

Cape White-eye (Zosterops pallidus) by Ian

Cape White-eye (Zosterops pallidus) by Ian

The white-eyes are small passerine birds native to tropical, subtropical and temperate Sub-Saharan Africa, southern and eastern Asia, and Australasia. White-eyes inhabit most tropical islands in the Indian Ocean, the western Pacific Ocean, and the Gulf of Guinea. Discounting some widespread members of the genus Zosterops, most species are endemic to single islands or archipelagos. The Silvereye, Zosterops lateralis, naturally colonised New Zealand, where it is known as the “Wax-eye” or Tauhau (“stranger”), from 1855. The Silvereye has also been introduced to Hawaii as well as the Society Islands in French Polynesia.

White-eyes are mostly of undistinguished appearance, the plumage being generally greenish olive above, and pale grey below. Some species have a white or bright yellow throat, breast or lower parts, and several have buff flanks. As their common name implies, many species have a conspicuous ring of tiny white feathers around their eyes. The scientific name of the group also reflects this latter feature, being derived from the Ancient Greek for “girdle-eye”. They have rounded wings and strong legs. Like many other nectivorous birds, they have slender, pointed bills, and brush-tipped tongues. The size ranges up to 15 cm (6 in.) in length.

Matthew 6:26 says, “…yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” He has made a special tongue for them to accomplish this feat.

(YouTube by Ichiro0402Nakano)

All the species of white-eyes are sociable, forming large flocks which only separate on the approach of the breeding season. They build tree nests and lay 2-4 unspotted pale blue eggs. Though mainly insectivorous, they eat nectar and fruits of various kinds. The Silvereye can be a problem in Australian vineyards, through piercing the grape allowing infection or insect damage to follow.

The White-eyes were in the Timaliidae (Babblers) Family but now are in the Zosteropidae (White-eyes) Family. (They are  constantly shuffling the families around and it is hard to maintain the web pages.) At the present time the Yuhinas and Babblers are not in with them. One thing that has kept this busy is that the White-eyes have been diversifying with rapid speciation.

“…the scientists suggest, white-eyes form new species rapidly because of their sociability, ability to survive in a variety of habitats, and a short time between generations relative to other birds. Some white-eye species may also have minimized further dispersal and gene flow by becoming sedentary over the course of evolution, similar to historically dispersive human populations that ‘settled down,’ the researchers said. “Our results indicate that high rates of diversification may have as much to do with a species’ ‘personality’ as they have to do with more classical geographic or geological drivers of ‘speciation,’ Filardi said.” (From National Geographic)

According to National Geographic’s Complete Birds of the World, the Silver-eye has migrated across 1,250 miles of open sea from between southeast Australia to Tasmania, New Zealand. That is quite a feat for birds that are only 3-6 inches long. Again, God has created much ability in these little birds.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy, (Psalms 33:18 NKJV)

Below is a video by Keith Blomerley of a Cape White-eye.

Birds of the World – Zosteropidae Family


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