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White-Eyes

species birds occur south

White-eyes are 85 species of small, perching song-birds that constitute the family Zosteropidae. White-eyes occur in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Japan, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, and many other islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

White-eyes are arboreal birds, occurring in a wide range of forest types, including mangroves, lowland forests, and montane forests. They also occur in brushy habitats, especially at higher altitude on mountains.

White-eyes are small birds, ranging in body length from 2.8-5.5 in (7-14 cm). They have a slender, pointed bill, with the upper mandible slightly downward curved. The wings are rounded, and the tail square backed. The plumage is subdued in coloration, similar among the various species, and is most commonly brown, olive-green, grey, or yellow, the latter usually occurring on the throat or belly. Most species have a white-feathered eye-ring, from which these birds are given their common name. The sexes are similar in plumage.

White-eyes forage actively in trees and shrubs for insects and spiders. White-eyes also feed on fruits, nectar, and pollen. Some species poke holes into soft, larger fruits, and feed on the pulp and juice using specialized, brushlike structures at the end of their tongue.

White-eyes commonly occur in flocks, which can be quite large during the nonbreeding season. They may also be part of mixed-species foraging flocks with other insectivorous birds.

White-eyes are territorial during the breeding season, when they declare their territories with soft, warbling songs. They build a deep, cup-shaped nest of woven fibers and spider webs, located in a horizontal fork of a branch. The clutch size is one to five. The eggs are incubated by both parents, who also share the feeding and care of the nestlings.

The genus Zosterops accounts for 62 of the 85 species in the family Zosteropidae. The oriental white-eye (Z. palpebrosa) occurs from Afghanistan to south China, and south into Indonesia. The black-capped white-eye (Z. atricapilla) occurs in the tropical forests of Sumatra, Borneo, peninsular Malaya, and Thailand in Southeast Asia.

The cinnamon white-eye (Hypocryptadius cinnamomeus) is a brown-backed species, with a dark eye but lacking in a white eye-ring, that breeds in the Philippines.

Bill Freedman

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