Zosterops palpebrosus Temminck, 1824
by Mrs. Nur Alwani Binti Zakaria, Mr. Mohammad Shahfiz Azman, Ms. Nor Hazwani Binti Ahmad Ruzman, Mr. Kaviarasu Munian & Ms. Noor Faradiana Binti Md Fauzi

The Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus) is a relatively small bird measuring 10.5--1 cm long, in the Zosteropidae family. Its key feature is the visible ring of white feathers around the eyes which makes it easily recognizable. The bird has yellow greenish upperparts and pale grey underparts. Some subspecies have a whitish grey belly while other subspecies may have a yellow mid-ventral stripe. Unlike other species or birds, the male looks similar to the female.

Zosterops palpebrosus inhabits open woodland in tropical Asia, including deciduous forest, swamp forest and mangroves, extending to cultivated areas, parks and gardens, from the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia. It is a common resident in Southeast Asia except for Northern Vietnam and Singapore.

The Oriental White-eye moves in flocks of varying sizes. It is very sociable and frequently moves from tree to tree. On the move, they constantly make soft calls. Although sociable, they will separate from flocks on the approach of the breeding season. This begins in December lasting up to September of the following year, but April is the peak season (Oates, 1889) when nests can be found almost everywhere (Doyle, 1933). These birds build delicate, little, cup and cradle-like nests from cobwebs and twigs, between 1.5 m and 18 m above the ground. The nest takes approximately 4 days to be completed. The eggs can be pale blue or greenish-blue in colour. At least 2-4 eggs are laid within a couple of days (Doyle, 1933). Both male and female share the duties of brooding by sitting very close and do not leave the eggs. Chicks are fed with live food like caterpillars, flies or small winged insects that supply sufficient protein. On the tenth day, the parents begin to feed fruits to the chicks (Page, 1912).

The adults feed on pollen, small seeds, fruits and small insects, especially ants. The Oriental White-eye helps in pollinating flowers when they forage. There was a case when this species was misidentified due to its forehead being covered by chestnut-coloured pollen (Harrington, 1910).

Zosterops palpebrosus is listed as Least Concern based on IUCN red list. The population appears to be decreasing due to on-going habitat destruction, but the decline is not sufficiently rapid for it to be listed in the Vulnerable category (IUCN, 2017). For this reason, no measures have been taken to conserve this species yet.


  1. Doyle, E.E. (1933). Nesting of the White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosaTemm.). J. Bombay National History Society 36 (2): pp. 504-505
  2. Harington, H.H. (1910). The Indian White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosa). J. Bombay National History Society 20 (2): pp. 520-521
  3. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved May 02, 2019, from
  4. Oates, E.W. (1889). Fauna of British India. Birds, Volume 1. Taylor & Francis (United Kingdom). pp. 214-215.
  5. Page, W.T. (1912). Breeding of the Indian White-Eye. Avicultural Magazine , Vol. 3 (4): pp. 114-117
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