name = White-eyes

image_width = 250px
image_caption = Silvereye ("Zosterops lateralis"), adult (right) and juveniles
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
ordo = Passeriformes
subordo = Passeri
familia = Zosteropidae (disputed)
subdivision_ranks = Genera
subdivision = "Apalopteron" "Cleptornis" "Heleia" "Hypocryptadius" "Lophozosterops" "Madanga" "Megazosterops" "Oculocincta" "Rukia" "Speirops" "Tephrozosterops" "Woodfordia" "Yuhina" "Zosterops"

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.


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.cite book |editor=Forshaw, Joseph|author= Lindsey, Terence|year=1991|title=Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds|publisher= Merehurst Press|location=London|pages= 207|isbn= 1-85391-186-0] 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 15cm (6 inches) in length.

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.fact|date=June 2008 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.fact|date=June 2008


The white-eyes were long considered a distinct family Zosteropidae because they are rather homogenous in morphology and ecology, leading top little adaptive radiation and divergence.The genus "Apalopteron", formerly placed in the Meliphagidae, was transferred to the white-eyes on genetic evidenceFact|date=April 2007. It differs much in appearance from the typical white-eyes, "Zosterops", but is approached by some Micronesian taxa; its color pattern is fairly unique save the imperfect white eye-ring.

In 2003, Alice Cibois published the results of her study of mtDNA cytochrome "b" and 12S/16S rRNA sequence data. According to her results, the white-eyes were likely to form a clade also containing the Yuhinas, which were until then placed with the Old World babblers, a large "wastebin" family. Previous molecular studies (e.g. Sibley & Ahlquist 1990, Barker "et al." 2002) had together with the morphological evidence tentatively placed white-eyes as the Timaliidae's closest relatives already. But some questions remained, mainly because the white-eyes are all very similar birds in habitus and habits, while the Old World babblers are very diverse (because, as we now know, the group as formerly defined was polyphyletic).

Combined with the yuhinas (and possibly other Timaliidae), the limits of the white-eye clade to the "true" Old World babblers becomes indistinct. Therefore, the current (early 2007) opinion weighs towards merging the group into the Timaliidae, perhaps as a subfamily ("Zosteropinae"). Few white-eyes have been thoroughly studied with the new results in mind, however, and almost all of these are from "Zosterops" which even at this point appears over-lumped. Also, many "Old World babblers" remain of unresolved relationships. Whether there can be a clear delimitation of a white-eye subfamily or even a young or emerging family is a question that requires a more comprehensive study of both this group and Timaliidae to resolve.(Jønsson & Fjeldså 2006)

For example, a revision of the yuhinas and the genus "Stachyris" (Cibois "et al." 2002), based on the same genes as Cibois (2003), revealed that the Philippine species placed in the latter genus by some were actually yuhinas. However, when the review by Jønsson & Fjeldså (2006) was published, no study had tried to propose a phylogeny for the newly-defined yuhinas including the white-eyes. Therefore, Jønsson & Fjeldså (2006) give a rather misleading phylogeny for the group. It appears as if the yuhinas are polyphyletic, with the White-collared Yuhina being closer to the ancestor of the "Zosterops" white-eyes than to other yuhinas including the species moved from "Stachyris" (Cibois "et al." 2002).


* Genus "Speirops"
** Fernando Po Speirops, "Speirops brunneus"
** Principe Speirops, "Speirops leucophoeus"
** Black-capped Speirops, "Speirops lugubris"
** Cameroon Speirops, "Speirops melanocephalus"
* Genus "Zosterops" - typical white-eyes (some 75 species, 1-3 recently extinct; polyphyletic)
* Genus "Rukia" - Eastern Carolines White-eyes
** Long-billed White-eye, "Rukia longirostra"
** Truk White-eye, "Rukia ruki"
* Genus "Cleptornis"
** Golden White-eye, "Cleptornis marchei"
* Genus "Tephrozosterops"
** Rufescent White-eye, "Tephrozosterops stalkeri"
* Genus "Madanga"
** Rufous-throated White-eye, "Madanga ruficollis"
* Genus "Lophozosterops"
** Crested White-eye, "Lophozosterops dohertyi"
** Black-masked White-eye, "Lophozosterops goodfellowi"
** Javan Grey-throated White-eye, "Lophozosterops javanicus"
** Grey-hooded White-eye, "Lophozosterops pinaiae"
** Streaky-headed White-eye, "Lophozosterops squamiceps"
** Yellow-browed White-eye, "Lophozosterops superciliaris"
* Genus "Oculocincta"
** Pygmy White-eye, "Oculocincta squamifrons"
* Genus "Heleia"
** Thick-billed White-eye, "Heleia crassirostris"
** Spot-breasted White-eye, "Heleia muelleri"
* Genus "Chlorocharis"
** Mountain Blackeye, "Chlorocharis emiliae"
* Genus "Woodfordia"
** Sanford's White-eye, "Woodfordia lacertosa"
** Bare-eyed White-eye, "Woodfordia superciliosa"
* Genus "Megazosterops" - sometimes placed in "Rukia"
** Giant White-eye, "Megazosterops palauensis"
* Genus "Hypocryptadius"
** Cinnamon Ibon, "Hypocryptadius cinnamomeus"
* Genus "Apalopteron" - Bonin White-eye (formerly "Bonin Honeyeater")

If the white-eyes are maintained as a separate family or subfamily, this yuhinas would have to be included there too.

* Genus "Yuhina" - yuhinas (found to be polyphyletic and now split into five genera)
** White-collared Yuhina, "Yuhina diademata"
** White-naped Yuhina, "Yuhina bakeri"
** Whiskered Yuhina, "Yuhina flavicollis"
** Burmese Yuhina, "Yuhina humilis"
** Stripe-throated Yuhina, "Yuhina gularis"
** Rufous-vented Yuhina, "Yuhina occipitalis"
** Taiwan Yuhina, "Yuhina brunneiceps"
** Black-chinned Yuhina, "Yuhina nigrimenta"
* Genus "Staphida"
** Striated Yuhina, "Staphida castaniceps"
** Chestnut-collared Yuhina, "Staphida torqueola"
** Chestnut-crested Yuhina, "Staphida everetti"
* Genus "Dasycrotapha" - formerly in "Stachyris"; tentatively placed here
** Flame-templed Babbler, "Dasycrotapha speciosa"
* Genus "Sterrhoptilus" - formerly in "Stachyris"; tentatively placed here
** Mindanao Pygmy Babbler (or Yuhina), "Sterrhoptilus plateni"
** Visayan Pygmy Babbler (or Yuhina), "Sterrhoptilus pygmaeus"
** Golden-crowned Babbler (or Yuhina), "Sterrhoptilus dennistouni"
** Black-crowned Babbler (or Yuhina), "Sterrhoptilus nigrocapitata"
** Rusty-crowned Babbler (or Yuhina), "Sterrhoptilus capitalis"
* Genus "Zosterornis" - formerly in "Stachyris"; tentatively placed here
** Chestnut-faced Babbler (or Yuhina), "Zosterornis whiteheadi"
** Luzon Striped Babbler (or Yuhina), "Zosterornis striatus"
** Panay Striped Babbler (or Yuhina), "Zosterornis latistriatus"
** Negros Striped Babbler (or Yuhina), "Zosterornis nigrorum"
** Palawan Striped Babbler (or Yuhina), "Zosterornis hypogrammicus"


* Alström, Per; Ericson, Per G.P.; Olsson, Urban & Sundberg, Per (2006): Phylogeny and classification of the avian superfamily Sylvioidea. "Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution" 38(2): 381–397. doi|10.1016/j.ympev.2005.05.015

* Barker, F. Keith; Barrowclough, George F. & Groth, Jeff G. (2002): A phylogenetic hypothesis for passerine birds: taxonomic and biogeographic implications of an analysis of nuclear DNA sequence data. "Proc. R. Soc. B" 269(1488): 295-308. doi|10.1098/rspb.2001.1883 [http://www.tc.umn.edu/~barke042/pdfs/Barker.et.al02.pdf PDF fulltext]

* Cibois, Alice (2003): Mitochondrial DNA Phylogeny of Babblers (Timaliidae). "Auk" 120(1): 1-20. DOI: 10.1642/0004-8038(2003)120 [0035:MDPOBT] 2.0.CO;2 [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3793/is_200301/ai_n9225604 HTML fulltext without images]

* Cibois, Alice; Kalyakin, Mikhail V.; Lian-Xian, Han & Pasquet, Eric (2002): Molecular phylogenetics of babblers (Timaliidae): revaluation of the genera "Yuhina" and "Stachyris". "J. Avian Biol." 33: 380–390. doi|10.1034/j.1600-048X.2002.02882.x (HTML abstract)

* del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A. & Christie D. (editors). (2006). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 9788496553422

* Jønsson, Knud A. & Fjeldså, Jon (2006): A phylogenetic supertree of oscine passerine birds (Aves: Passeri). "Zool. Scripta" 35(2): 149–186. doi|:10.1111/j.1463-6409.2006.00221.x (HTML abstract)

* Sibley, Charles Gald & Ahlquist, Jon Edward (1990): "Phylogeny and classification of birds". Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.

External links

* [http://ibc.hbw.com/ibc/phtml/familia.phtml?idFamilia=170 White-Eye videos] on the Internet Bird Collection

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • White-eye — n. (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of several species of small Old World singing of the genus {Zosterops}, as {Zosterops palpebrosus} of India, and {Zosterops c[oe]rulescens} of Australia. The eyes are encircled by a ring of white feathers, whence the name …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • white-eye — [hwīt′ī΄, wīt′ī΄] n. any of a family (Zosteropidae) of small passerine birds of SE Asia, S Africa, Australia, etc., usually having rings of white feathers around the eyes …   English World dictionary

  • white-eye — ˈ ̷ ̷ˌ ̷ ̷ noun 1. a. : silvereye b. : white eyed vireo c. : white eyed duck a 2 …   Useful english dictionary

  • white-eye — /ˈwaɪt aɪ / (say wuyt uy) noun any of the numerous small, chiefly tropical, singing birds of Australia, southern Asia and some Pacific islands, constituting the family Zosteropidae, most species of which have a ring of white feathers round the… …   Australian-English dictionary

  • white-eye — /hwuyt uy , wuyt /, n., pl. white eyes. any of numerous small, chiefly tropical Old World songbirds of the family Zosteropidae, most of which have a ring of white feathers around the eye: several species are endangered. Also called silver eye.… …   Universalium

  • white-eye — noun a small songbird with a ring of white feathers around the eye. [Zosterops and other genera.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • White-eye (disambiguation) — White eye can refer to: *White eye (Zosteropidae), a large family of birds. *White eye (fish) (Oxyzygonectes dovii), a species of fish. *White eye mutation, a mutation in Drosophila melanogaster linked to the X chromosome, found by reciprocal… …   Wikipedia

  • White-chested White-eye — Taxobox name = White chested White eye regnum = Animalia status = CR status system = iucn2.3 image caption = White chested White eye (John Gould artwork) image width = 250px phylum = Chordata classis = Aves ordo = Passeriformes familia =… …   Wikipedia

  • White-breasted White-eye — Taxobox name = White breasted White eye status = LC | status system = IUCN3.1 regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Aves ordo = Passeriformes familia = Zosteropidae genus = Zosterops species = Z. abyssinicus binomial = Zosterops… …   Wikipedia

  • White-throated White-eye — Taxobox name = White throated White eye status = DD | status system = IUCN3.1 regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Aves ordo = Passeriformes familia = Zosteropidae genus = Zosterops species = Z. meeki binomial = Zosterops meeki binomial… …   Wikipedia

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