Family White-eyes and Yuhinas (Zosteropidae)

Least Concern

Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus)


French: Zostérops oriental German: Gangesbrillenvogel Spanish: Anteojitos oriental

Sylvia palpebrosa


, 1824,

Bengal, India


Extremely confused; genetic data indicate that races form two groups, perhaps better considered separate species, although more complete taxon sampling required#R#R. See remarks under Z. japonicus. Formerly considered to form a species complex with Z. salvadorii and Z. everetti: under that arrangement, race siamensis treated as a species, auriventer (together with race tahanensis of Z. everetti) as another species, melanurus and unicus then constituting a third species, and remaining races of present species (together with Z. salvadorii and remaining races of Z. everetti) forming the fourth species. However, Z. salvadorii and Z. e. everetti now believed to be more distantly related to present species. Population in neighbourhood of Mt Gede Pangrango, in W Java, intermediate between races buxtoni and melanurus. Races egregius and salimalii possibly better subsumed into nominate. Birds in Cambodia of uncertain racial identity, provisionally included in williamsoni; those on Andaman Is currently included in nicobaricus, but possibly represent an undescribed race. Proposed races joannae (described from SE Yunnan, China) and occidentis (Simla, N India) synonymized with nominate, and amabilis (Kathiawar Peninsula, W India) merged with egregius. Eleven subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • Z. p. palpebrosus (Temminck, 1824) – Oriental White-eye – SE Arabia (Mahawt I, in Oman#R); S Iran (Khoor-e-Azini, Jask, Khoor-e-Khalasi, Khoor-e-Neyzei#R#R), NE Afghanistan, Pakistan and N India E to S China (SE Xizang, SW Sichuan and Yunnan E to SW Guangxi) and Myanmar (except S & SE).
  • Z. p. nilgiriensis Ticehurst, 1927 – S Western Ghats (hills of S Karnataka and W Tamil Nadu), in SW India.
  • Z. p. salimalii Whistler, 1933 – S Eastern Ghats (Shevaroy, Chitteri, Seshachalam, Nallamalai), in SE India.
  • Z. p. egregius Madarász, 1911 – lowlands of India, Laccadive Is and Sri Lanka.
  • Z. p. siamensis Blyth, 1867 – S Myanmar (Pegu, Kayah, Kayin), N, E & SE Thailand and NW Indochina.
  • Z. p. nicobaricus Blyth, 1845 – Andaman Is and Nicobar Is (except S).
  • Z. p. williamsoni Robinson & Kloss, 1919 – Gulf of Thailand coast (from Bangkok S to Pattani) and W Cambodia.
  • Z. p. auriventer A. O. Hume, 1878 – extreme S Myanmar (S Tenasserim), W coast of S Thailand, W & SE Peninsular Malaysia (including islands of Ra, Libong, Pinang, Kelang Estuary Group and Pisang off W coast, and Tioman off E coast), Singapore, E coastal areas of Sumatra, Riau Is (Kundur), Bangka I, S Natuna Is and Borneo (W Sarawak, Brunei).
  • Z. p. buxtoni Nicholson, 1879 – highlands of Sumatra, and extreme W Java (Bantam and Bogor).
  • Z. p. melanurus Hartlaub, 1865 – Sunda White-eye – Java and Bali.
  • Z. p. unicus E. J. O. Hartert, 1897 – Lesser Sundas (Sumbawa and Flores).
  • Descriptive notes

    9·6–11 cm; 5·6–11 g. Nominate race has forehead and supraloral region yellowish, black loral line extending to half-way under white eyering, latter... read more


    Song, heard only in breeding season, short, thin and wispy, of slurred call notes, that of race... read more


    Deciduous forest, broadleaf evergreen/semi-evergreen forest and swamp-forest, also forest edge,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous. Vegetable matter includes small buds, seeds, fruits and nectar; animal food mostly insects. Fruits taken include those of the... read more


    Season Feb–Sept in Indian Subcontinent, mainly Mar–Jun in Pakistan but extending right up to outbreak of monsoon (to as late as... read more


    Mostly resident, but continental races (especially nominate, salimalii and ... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally or locally common to very common throughout range. In Pakistan appears to be gradually spreading S into N Sind with the spread of... read more

    Recommended citation

    van Balen, B. (2019). Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus). 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).