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Indian White-eye - BirdForum Opus

Nominate subspecies Z. p. palpebrosus
Photo © by Yeshey Dorji
Taba, Western Bhutan, August 2004
Zosterops palpebrosus


9·6–11 cm (3¼-4¼ in)

  • Greenish-yellow upperparts
  • White to light grey underparts
  • Bright yellow throat and breast
  • Rounded wings
  • Strong legs
  • White eye-ring


Birds that are completely yellow (including underside) have been reported in the range of the subspecies siamensis.


Subspecies Z. p. occidentis
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Ranikhet Hill Station, Alt. 6800 ft., Uttarakhand Himalayas, India, 3 April 2018

From Afghanistan over Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Burma to Indochina. Also found on Sri Lanka and the Andamans as well as in isolated populations in Oman (Mahawt Island) and in southern Iran.


This species plus other subspecies were in the past lumped together in the former Oriental White-eye. Indian White-eye includes mostly the subspecies from the western end of that group.


Subspecies Z. p. occidentis
Photo © by max1
Gurgaon, near Delhi, India, 14 February 2018

There are seven subspecies1

  • Z. p. occidentis
    • Northeastern Afghanistan east to western Himalayas, and northern and central India
  • Z. p. palpebrosus
    • Central and eastern Himalayas east to southern China (Sichuan, Yunnan) and Myanmar; isolated populations on Mahawt Island, Oman, and in southern Iran have been assigned to nominate palpebralis, although this requires confirmation
  • Z. p. nilgiriensis
    • Western India (Western Ghats); most populations elsewhere in southern peninsular India are more or less similar
  • Z. p. salimalii
    • Southeastern Hyderabad, southeastern India
  • Z. p. egregius
  • Z. p. siamensis
    • Southern Myanmar east through Indochina
  • Z. p. nicobaricus
    • Andaman and Nicobar Islands


Common in hill forests and wooded areas, but also occupies forested areas including mangrove down to sea level. In the eastern end of its range it rarely is found in lowland.



It builds a tree nest and lays 2-5 unspotted pale blue eggs.


Its diet mainly includes insects, but it will also eat nectar and fruits of various kinds.


Calling and giving summer song while perched in a Deodar pine tree; few pairs were nesting in the vicinity.

Audio © by Alok Tewari
Mussoorie Hill Station, altitude 6800 feet, Dehradun, Uttarakhand Himalayas, India. 29 April 2024.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. TrekNature
  3. Birdforum thread which from about post 80 discusses the taxonomic changes leading to redefining the former Oriental White-eye

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