Family White-eyes and Yuhinas (Zosteropidae)

Least Concern

Madagascar White-eye (Zosterops maderaspatanus)


French: Zostérops malgache German: Madagaskarbrillenvogel Spanish: Anteojitos malgache
Other common names: Malagasy White-eye

Motacilla maderaspatana


, 1766,



Usually includes Z. mayottensis and Z. kirki, and recent molecular evidence suggests that these taxa sit within the Z. maderaspatanus clade, with species groups in present species roughly equally distinct genetically#R so that all might better be treated as conspecific or all split#R; nevertheless, taxa remaining in present species far more uniform in plumage. Race menaiensis poorly defined and of uncertain validity, but its different calls (which some authors consider to indicate species rank) argue for its retention, pending further studies; this in turn makes it plausible to contemplate resurrecting gloriosae on Glorioso Is, as NHMUK specimen material suggests paler grey flanks and marginally larger, deeper bills. Proposed form hovarum (Madagascar), once allowed species rank, invalid; original description based on an aberrant individual (with grey upperparts), other examples of which have been found on Cosmolédo Atoll (SW Seychelles). Additional described taxa from Madagascar are ampotakae (a small form at Ampotaka, in dry SW plain) and analogus (a slightly larger montane form from Manjakatompo, in Ankaratta Mts); both are treated as synonyms of nominate. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • Z. m. aldabrensis Ridgway, 1894 – Aldabra White-eye – Aldabra Atoll (possibly also still on Assumption), in SW Seychelles.
  • Z. m. menaiensis Benson, 1969 – Cosmolédo Atoll (Menai) and Astove, in SW Seychelles.
  • Z. m. comorensis Shelley, 1900 – Moheli White-eye – Mohéli (Mwali), in SC Comoros.
  • Z. m. anjuanensis E. Newton, 1877 – Anjouan White-eye – Anjouan (Ndzuani), in EC Comoros.
  • Z. m. maderaspatanus (Linnaeus, 1766) – Madagascar White-eye – Madagascar, and Glorioso Is (off NW coast).
  • Z. m. voeltzkowi Reichenow, 1905 – Europa I, in S Mozambique Channel.
  • Descriptive notes

    10–12 cm; averages 11·2 g (nominate), 7·6 g (aldabrensis), 8·8 g (como­ren­sis), 8·3 g (kirki). Nominate... read more


    Song consists of reedy notes; song of race kirki (from exposed perch) loud and melodious,... read more


    All types of wooded areas, including all original undisturbed forest types, mossy forest, forest... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly insects, especially beetles (Coleoptera), caterpillars, bugs (Hemiptera), Neuroptera, flies (Diptera), ants (Formicidae); also... read more


    Mid-Sept to Mar, coinciding with wet season, with peak in Oct–Nov. Nest a firm deep cup made of Casuarina needles, grassy... read more


    Not known.  

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in Madagascar and the Comoros; common in the Seychelles, where it is one of the two most abundant landbirds on Aldabra, but less so on Cosmol... read more

    Recommended citation

    van Balen, B. (2019). Madagascar White-eye (Zosterops maderaspatanus). 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).