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Warbling White-eye - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by janruss
Wailea, Maui, Hawaii
Zosterops japonicus

Includes Japanese White-eye (partly) and Mountain White-eye


10–12 cm; relatively small songbirds
They have a slightly curved black bill extending from their yellow forehead. Silky white eye-rings, not always present in juveniles. Back color ranges from olive to dusky green, with blackish brown outlined in green covering the uppertail and the flight feathers. The underside of the tail and chin are yellow. Throat is mostly yellow. The underparts are pale grey with flanks more brownish-buff, sometimes spreading to entire underparts. Legs and feet are black.


Subspecies montanus
Photo © by Mehd Halaouate
West Java, Indonesia, October 2005

Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Presumably during migration or winter, it has been recorded in China and Taiwan.

Introduced to Hawaii and the most numerous bird in the main Hawaiian islands. Introduced birds are also found in Singapore.



Subspecies whiteheadi
Photo © by Romy Ocon
Mountain Province, Philippines June 2006

There are 15 subspecies[1]:

  • Z. j. japonicus: Southern Sakhalin Island through Japan and southern Korea; partially migratory, withdrawing from Sakhalin Island and northern Japan in the nonbreeding season. Additinally, introduced in Hawaii and Singapore
  • Z. j. stejnegeri : Izu Island (southern Japan); introduced to Bonin Island
  • Z. j. insularis: Ryukyu Island (Tanegashima and Yakushima)
  • Z. j. loochooensis: Iriomote (Ryukyu Island)
  • Z. j. alani: Volcano Island (Iwo Jima and Minami-iwo-Jima)
  • Z. j. daitoensis: Daito Island (Philippine Sea)
  • Z. j. obstinatus: Moluccas (Ternate, Bacan and Seram)
  • Z. j. montanus: central Sumatra, Java, Bali, Sulawesi, Sula Is., Buru, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, Timor
  • Z. j. difficilis: southern Sumatra
  • Z. j. parkesi: southwestern Philippines (Palawan)
  • Z. j. whiteheadi: northern Philippines (northern Luzon)
  • Z. j. diuatae: southern Philippines (northern Mindanao)
  • Z. j. vulcani: southern Philippines (Mt. Apo and Mt. Katanglad on Mindanao)
  • Z. j. pectoralis: Philippines (northern Negros)
  • Z. j. halconensis: Philippines (Mindoro)

This species was brought together by taking 6 subspecies from the former Japanese White-eye and all of the subspecies from the former Mountain White-eye. A few other subspecies from Japanese White-eye were placed in Swinhoe's White-eye.


Deciduous and mixed forests, thickets and open woodland.

Introduced to Hawaii in 1927, this beautiful green bird can be found all over the Hawaiian islands, from the wettest forest to the driest deserts.


Extremely energetic birds that are always on the move.


They eat insects, nectar and fruit.


Extremely territorial when nesting. Nest can be at any height in any tree. Breeding season varies with location.


  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. Van Riper, S. G. and B. van Balen (2020). Warbling White-eye (Zosterops japonicus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.warwhe1.01
  3. BF Member observations

Recommended Citation

External Links

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