Japanese whiteeye

Zosterops japonicus

TAXONOMY

Zosterops japonicus Temminck & Schlegel, 1847, Nagasaki, Japan. 11 subspecies on different islands.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Zosterops des Japon; German: Japanbrillenvogel; Spanish: Ojiblanco Japonés.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Length, 4.7 in (12 cm); weight, 0.4 oz (11 g); wing, 20.5-25.6 in (52-65 cm); tail, 13.4-18.1 in (34-46 cm); tarsus, 5.5-7.5 in (14-19 cm); culmen, 3.5-5.1 in (9-13 cm). Olive-green back and pale gray under, with lemon-yellow throat and undertail coverts.

DISTRIBUTION

Japanese islands, China, Taiwan, Hainan Island, and the Philippines. Introduced into Hawaii and Bonin Island.

HABITAT

Broadleaf evergreen forests and deciduous forests on lowlands and foothills of mountains.

BEHAVIOR

Form small flocks after breeding, sometimes move in mixed flocks, to hunt arthropod prey, and soft fruit and berries. Partial migrant, appearing in villages and suburban gardens in winter.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Apart from arthropod prey, they feed on fruit and nectar. Famous examples include nectar from camellia on warm temperate islands and fruit of ripe persimmon on main islands of Japan.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Breeds in spring, each pair holding a small nesting territory. The cup-shaped nest is hung from a fork in shrubs and 3-4 eggs are incubated for 11 days.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. Common in most parts, but some isolated populations on islands are vulnerable.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Males were kept in cages for songs. One of the familiar birds of the countryside in Japan, often featured in various forms of art and literature. ♦

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