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Swinhoe's White-eye - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies williamsoni
Photo © by Chinese Canuck
Mahachai Bay Mangrove Forest Research Centre, Samut Sakhon, Thailand, February 25, 2012

Includes Enggano White-eye

Zosterops simplex


Mostly olive-green above and medium grey below with yellow throat and vent areas. In the head has a white eye-ring that is broken in front, width above eye is about half of eye diameter. There is a black loral line continuing below the eye-ring and yellowish above lore and at the front of the head. Bare parts are grey and brownish iris.


Subspecies simplex
Photo © by Dave 2x
Kinmen, Taiwan, December 2012

China, Taiwan, Indochina, Thailand, Malaysia, and western Indonesia.


Five subspecies are recognized:

  • Z. s. simplex
    • Breeds in eastern China (from extreme southern Gansu east to Jiangsu, south to eastern Yunnan, Guangxi, Guangdong and Fujian), Taiwan, and northeastern Vietnam; northern populations migratory, wintering from southeastern China to Thailand and central Indochina
  • Z. s. hainanus
    • Hainan (s China)
  • Z. s. williamsoni
    • Southern Thailand and east coast of northern and central Thai-Malay Peninsula
  • Z. s. erwini
    • Coastal forests of the western and southeastern Thai-Malay Peninsula, of Sumatra, the Riau Islands, Bangka, and the Natuna Islands; population of coastal western Borneo provisionally assigned here, but possibly a distinct taxon
  • Z. s. salvadorii
    • Enggano and Mega islands (off w Sumatra)

The last subspecies used to be considered a full species, Enggano White-eye. Subspecies williamsoni used to be part of the now former Oriental White-eye. The remaining subspecies seems to have come from the former Japanese White-eye.


Mostly a bird of lowlands and especially in the southern end often found in or near coastal areas. Mostly found in forest, woodland, rubber plantations, gardens, and mangrove but in Enggano often in Coconut plantations.


Especially northern populations are migratory.


Food includes fruit, buds, seeds and nectar, but also insects are taken. Frequently moves around in mixed species flocks where hovering to find food is employed.



  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. Birdforum thread which from about post 80 discusses the taxonomic changes leading to the definition of this species
  3. Birdforum thread describing differences of Hume's vs Swinhoe's White-eyes
  4. van Balen, B. (2020). Swinhoe's White-eye (Zosterops simplex), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, B. K. Keeney, P. G. Rodewald, and T. S. Schulenberg, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.swiwhe1.01

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