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26

Silvereye

(Zosterops lateralis)
Alternate name(s): "Grey-backed Silvereye", "Blight-bird", "Sivve", "Silvey", "Grinnell", "Tauhou", "Waxeye", "White-eye*", "Grape-eater*"; Race "chloronotus": "Grey-breasted White-eye"
Aboriginal name(s): Race "chloronotus": "boang", "djoolwedelong"

Size: 11-13 cm
Weight: 11 g (average)

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Silvereye at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Not the photos you want? Or are you after even better quality? Have a look here .

Race "lateralis"

ADULT

Frontal view of an adult Silvereye
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, August 2011]

Frontal view from below of a Silvereye (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Cook, SA, June 2016]

Close-up lateral view of a Silvereye
[Terry Hie Hie, NSW, June 2013]

This lateral view of a Silvereye shows very clearly the rufous sides
[Terry Hie Hie, NSW, June 2013]

Race "cornwalli"

ADULT

Frontal view of a Silvereye "cornwalli" (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Frontal view of a Silvereye "cornwalli"
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, May 2012]

Lateral view of a Silvereye (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, August 2012]

Lateral view of a Silvereye "cornwalli"
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, June 2012]

Lateral view of a Silvereye "cornwalli" (photo courtesy of R. Druce)

Dorsal view of a Silvereye, race "cornwalli"
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, June 2012]

Lateral view of a Silvereye calling
[November 2011]

View of a Silvereye, race "cornwalli"; this is the bird whose calls were recorded on 14 September 2015
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, September 2015]

Race "westernensis"

ADULT

Near-frontal view of a Silvereye studying the photographer
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, November 2015]

Silvereye "westernensis" trying to dislodge parasites (psyllids?) from a twig
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, June 2012]

Near-lateral view of a Silvereye "westernensis"
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, June 2012]

Lateral view of a Silvereye "westernensis" (photo courtesy of I. Duncan)
[South West Rocks, NSW, April 2011]

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Lateral view of a soaking wet Silvereye ("westernensis"?) just out of the bird bath
[Coonabarabran, NSW, October 2015]

Race "pinarochrous"

ADULT

Frontal view of a Silvereye in the first light of a new day
[Near Hawker, SA, March 2008]

Near-lateral view of a Silvereye (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[American River, Kangaroo Island, SA, March 2016]

Lateral view of a Silvereye
[Near Hawker, SA, March 2008]

Two Silvereyes taking advantage of a crack in a water storage tank to get a drink
[Near Hawker, SA, March 2008]

Red-browed Finches and Silvereyes taking a bath together (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Race "chlorocephalus"

This race is also called the "Capricornian Silvereye".

ADULT

Near-frontal view of a Silvereye (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Lady Elliot Island, near Agnes Water, QLD, January 2016]

Near-lateral view of a Silvereye (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Lady Elliot Island, near Agnes Water, QLD, January 2016]

Lateral view of a Silvereye (photo courtesy of H. Mouritsen)
[One Tree Island, Capricornia Cays NP, QLD, January 2011]

Race "vegetus"

ADULT

Lateral view of a Silvereye, race "vegetus" (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Rocky Creek, Cairns, QLD, July 2013]

Race "chloronotus"

This race is also called the "Grey-breasted White-eye".

ADULT

Frontal view of a Silvereye (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Mt. Duckworth, WA, December 2016]

Near-frontal view of a Silvereye taking an insect (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Albany, WA, January 2015]

Near-lateral view of a Silvereye (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Albany, WA, January 2015]

Near-dorsal view of a Silvereye in dense shrubbery (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Mundaring, 35 km East of Perth, WA, December 2014]

Race "tephropleurus"

This race is also known as the "Lord Howe Silvereye", "Lord Howe White-eye", "Lord Howe Island White-eye" or "Little Grinnell".

ADULT

Lateral view of a Silvereye, race "tephropleurus" (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lord Howe Island, November 2014]

Lateral view of a Silvereye, race "tephropleurus" (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Lord Howe Island, November 2014]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Sep - Jan Eggs: 3 - 4 Incubation period: 10 days Fledging age: ca. 12? days

Note that Silvereyes have a very short incubation period.

Nest building: Female & male Incubation: Female & male Dependent care: Female & male

While the male marks his territory, the female takes on the full load of caring for the offspring, from start to finish.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Hanging basket Material: Dry grass Height above ground: 1-? m

A pair of Silvereyes, race "cornwalli", was found by us to be nesting near the top of this shrub
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, December 2015]

While waiting for the disturbance to clear out, the owners of the nest has some time for a bit of Silvereye TLC; these are the birds whose calls were recorded on 28 December 2015
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, December 2015]

Silvereye sitting on its nest incubating
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, January 2016]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 18 x 13 mm Colour: Light-blue Shape: Tapered oval

View from above into the nest of a pair of Silvereyes, race "cornwalli", with three eggs in it
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, January 2016]

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Migratory/dispersive Elementary unit: Small flock

We have observed Silvereyes in groups from about 10 birds, up to flocks of about 250. Different races can be mixed in one flock.

Silvereye at the very top of a dead tree; this bird was communicating with its mates in other, nearby trees by exchange of contact calls while perched, before the whole group moved on
[Near Narrabri, NSW, October 2014]

We have found Silvereyes in a variety of habitats and plants, in this case in coastal banksia
[Urunga board walk, Urunga Heads, NSW, March 2015]

Food, Diet

Silvereyes have been observed by us feeding on the flowers of grass trees and eucalypts. But they clearly also take insects, as shown below.

Silvereye ("cornwalli" or "westernensis") feeding on the blossoms of a low shrub called Urn Heath (Melichrus urceolatus); White-eared Honeyeaters and Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters were also observed visiting these plants
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, May 2013]

Silvereye ("lateralis") feeding on the blossoms of a low shrub called Urn Heath (Melichrus urceolatus)
[Terry Hie Hie, NSW, June 2013]

Silvereyes ("cornwalli" or "westernensis") feeding on the blossoms of a grass tree
[Watagans NP, NSW, June 2009]

Silvereye "westernensis" that has picked up a parasite (psyllid?) from a twig
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, June 2012]

Silvereye "cornwalli" having a go at parasites (psyllids?); note how hard it must be to dislodge the animals, because their foothold is strong enough for the bird to get a strong grip to steady itself on them in turn
[Bullawa Creek SCA, NSW, June 2012]

Silvereye "chloronotus" with its prey, a comparatively huge caterpillar (photo courtesy of J. Greaves
[Balingup, WA, May 2016]

Silvereyes "cornwalli" approaching a waterhole
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, October 2013]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

slvreye_20150914.mp3 cornwalli (NW NSW) Territorial calls? © MD
slvreye_20150914_2.mp3 cornwalli (NW NSW) Territorial calls? © MD
slvreye_20141203.mp3 (NW NSW) Contact calls © MD
slvreye_20140502.mp3 (NW NSW) Contact calls © MD
slvreye_20151228.mp3 cornwalli (NW NSW) Upset near nest & contact calls © MD
slvreye_20140110_3.mp3 (NW NSW) Various © MD
slvreye_art_20131202.mp3 (SE QLD) ? © ART
slvreye_20140110_4.mp3 (NW NSW) ? © MD
slvreye_20141010.mp3 (Hunter Valley, NSW) ? © MD
slvreye_20141010_2.mp3 (Hunter Valley, NSW) ? © MD

We have also recorded the wing beat of Silvereyes.

slvreye_20140518_2.mp3 (NW NSW) Departing flock © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.