Family White-eyes and Yuhinas (Zosteropidae)

Least Concern

Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonicus)


French: Zostérops du Japon German: Japanbrillenvogel Spanish: Anteojitos japonés

Zosterops japonicus

Temminck and Schlegel

, 1845,

Decima, Nagasaki, Japan


Sometimes considered conspecific with either or both of Z. meyeni and Z. palpebrosus; hybrids with Z. palpebrosus found in S China and N Vietnam; sometimes only N race batanis of Z. meyeni placed within present species. Affinity to Z. erythropleurus unclear. Geographical variation possibly partly clinal, as N races large, dark and have somewhat brownish or buffy flanks, whereas smallest and brightest races occur in S of range (Hainan), but apparently a marked difference between island and continental forms, latter being smaller, with much paler, buffier flanks and typically yellow lores and frons (and race hainanus notably small); further study required. Races stejnegeri and alani interbreed in Ogasawara (Bonin) Is (where both introduced); hybrids named as boninsimae. Other proposed races are yesoensis (described from Muroran, on Hokkaido), which is synonymized with nominate, and, in S Ryukyus, iriomotensis (Iriomote) and yokakuni (Yonaguni), which are subsumed into loochooensis. Eight subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • Z. j. japonicus Temminck & Schlegel, 1845 – Japanese White-eye – S Sakhalin, Japan (including Sado, Oki, Tsushima, Iki, and Goto Is) and coastal S Korean Peninsula.
  • Z. j. insularis Ogawa, 1905 – extreme N Ryukyu Is (Tanegashima, Yakushima and Kumejima).
  • Z. j. loochooensis Tristram, 1889 – Ryukyu Is (except extreme N) S to Yonaguni.
  • Z. j. daitoensis Nagamichi Kuroda, 1923 – Borodino Is (Kita-daito-jima and Minami-daito-jima).
  • Z. j. stejnegeri Seebohm, 1891 – Oshima (Izu Is) S to Torishima (Nanpo Archipelago).
  • Z. j. alani E. J. O. Hartert, 1905 – Iwo (Volcano) Is (Kita-iwo-jima, Iwo Jima).
  • Z. j. simplex Swinhoe, 1861 – Chinese White-eye – E China (extreme S Gansu E to Jiangsu, S to Sichuan, E Yunnan, Guangxi, Guangdong and Fujian) and Taiwan and extreme NE Vietnam (E Tonkin); non-breeding SE China S to Thailand and C Indochina.
  • Z. j. hainanus E. J. O. Hartert, 1923 – Hainan.
  • Races stejnegeri and alani introduced on Ogasawara (Bonin) Is, where both interbreed. Nominate race introduced in Singapore and Hawaii (established on all the main islands).

    Descriptive notes

    10–11·5 cm; 7·5–13·9 g. Male nominate race is olive-green above (without yellow on forehead or over lores), white eyering of average width... read more


    Song of nominate race high-pitched and squeaky, but complex, resembling in pattern song of House... read more


    Deciduous or mixed forests, thickets, open woodland, secondary growth, also cultivated areas (e.g.... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small insects, soft fruits and nectar. In Japan very fond of persimmons (Diospyros kaki), and in late winter and spring attracted... read more


    Season Mar/Apr–Aug; two broods in Japan, with eggs as late as Aug, probably two broods in subtropical part of range, but up to three... read more


    Some N populations migratory; non-breeding range of race simplex includes C, S & E... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common in most of range. The most common bird species in secondary forest of Hong Kong, with mean density of 12·4 birds/ha,... read more

    Recommended citation

    van Balen, B. (2019). Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonicus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 20 August 2019).