Monday, September 8, 2014

Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonicus)

(10 cm.) Small; green-olive upperparts; white eye-ring; yellow throat and vent

The Japanese White-eye is the most common of three white-eye species that occur in China. All white-eyes are named, not surprisingly, for the conspicuous white eye rings that each member of the family possesses. China is home to several other small songbirds, however, that also possess white eye rings such as several species of flycatcher, so one should not automatically assume that any bird with an eye ring is a member of this family.

The Japanese White-eye, like other members of its family, “Zosteropidae,” the white-eyes, is an omnivore with a varied diet. The birds will take insects and fruits and will even visit flowers to take nectar.

This species is extremely active, and like many warblers, it is often difficult to observe due to the hyperactive pace it sets. Fortunately, its broad eye ring and yellow body are easily noted, and it is very quickly identifiable.

Of the three white-eye species which occur in China, only two inhabit the eastern part of the country, the Japanese White-eye and its close cousin, the Chestnut-flanked White-eye. The species look alike, however, the Chestnut-flanked White-eye has very obvious brown stripes on its sides, so distinguishing the two species is not difficult. Sometimes, these two species will flock together.

The Japanese White-eye builds a cup-shaped nest made of a variety of building materials such as hair, spider webs, moss and lichen. It will even steal materials from the nests of other birds.

This bird is admirable for its beauty as well as its role in helping to control insect populations. In 1929, it was introduced to Hawaii in an attempt by authorities there to control insect populations on that ecologically-challenged group of islands.

Japanese White-eye (Photo by Dick Daniels)
Japanese White-eye (Photo by Dick Daniels)

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