Warbling White-Eye

Warbling White-Eye

Japanese white-eye, Mountain white-eye

Zosterops japonicus
Population size
Life Span
5 years
g oz 
cm inch 

The warbling white-eye (Zosterops japonicus ), also known as the Japanese white-eye and mountain white-eye, is a small passerine bird in the white-eye family. The specific epithet is occasionally written japonica, but this is incorrect due to the gender of the genus. Its native range includes much of East Asia, including the Russian Far East, Japan, Indonesia, Korea, and the Philippines. It has been intentionally introduced to other parts of the world as a pet and as pest control, with mixed results. As one of the native species of the Japanese islands, it has been depicted in Japanese art on numerous occasions, and historically was kept as a cage bird.


The Japanese white-eye is a small songbird native to much of east Asia. As one of the native species of the Japanese islands, it has been depicted in Japanese art on numerous occasions, and historically was kept as a cage bird. This bird is olive green on its back, from anterior to posterior, and is pale green on its underside. Its feet, legs, and bill range from black to brown. It has a green forehead and a yellow throat. The white-eye has rounded wings and a long, slender bill - both of which indicate this bird to be very acrobatic. Its wings are dark brown but outlined in green. Like other white-eyes, this bird has the distinctive white eyering that gives it its name.



Japanese white-eyes are found in Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines, and Timor-Leste. These birds live in forests, open woodland, thickets, and shrubland. Thye can also be found in groves, gardens, plantations, and city parks.

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Japanese white-eyes are diurnal birds that are rarely found on the ground. They are very sociable and outside of the breeding season may form flocks with other species; in these flocks, the birds form groups in which they forage during flight. There is a social hierarchy in a flock that is established through physical displays. Some of these displays include wing flicks exposing the underwing, wing flutters, and vibrations, as well as open beak displays and beak snaps (rapid shutting of the beak to make a snapping noise). Japanese white-eyes feed on insects by searching the leaves of flowers and scouring tree bark for larvae.

Group name
Seasonal behavior
Bird's call

Diet and Nutrition

Japanese white-eyes are omnivorous. Their diet includes fruit from several species of flowering plants, various types of insects, and nectar at all levels of foliage.

Mating Habits

11-12 days
25-32 days
2-5 eggs

Japanese white-eyes are monogamous and for pairs. They breed from February to December and may raise up to 3 clutches per season. During the mating season, males establish territories by singing loudly. They will fend off intruders of the same species, yet will allow other species of birds to nest inside of their territory. Pairs choose a location for the nest between 1 and 30 meters above ground level. Construction of the nest lasts 7-10 days on average. Nests are cup-shaped and are made of spider webs, moss, lichens, and mammal hair. Female lays 2-5 white, smooth, and elliptical eggs, and both parents incubate them for 11-12 days. The chicks hatch altricial (helpless). They fledge 10-12 days after hatching but usually can't fly for 1-6 days after leaving the nest. The chicks remain with parents for another 15-20 days and become reproductively mature at 1 year of age.


Population threats

Japanese white-eyes are not considered endangered at present. However, these small birds are often trapped for the illegal pet trade.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Japanese white-eye total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.

Ecological niche

Japanese white-eyes eat a large variety of insects and fruit and thus help to control local insect populations and disperse seeds throughout the forests in their ecosystem.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The other name of the Japanese white-eye, Mejiro, means "white eye" in Japanese.
  • Like many other nectarivorous birds, Japanese white-eyes have slender, pointed bills, and brush-tipped tongues that allow the birds to feed on nectar.
  • Allopreening is an extremely common behavior in Japanese white-eyes; it is an art of cleaning, grooming, and maintaining plumage healthy.
  • When building their nests, Japanese white-eyes often steal material from the nests of other birds.
  • The Japanese white-eye was originally introduced in O’ahu, the third-largest of the Hawaiian Islands in 1929; since then it has rapidly expanded its population and can now be found on every island of Hawaii.


1. Warbling White-Eye on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warbling_white-eye
2. Warbling White-Eye on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/155158005/155636070
3. Xeno-canto bird call - https://xeno-canto.org/680985

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