Zosterops lateralis

Physical Description

The Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) is a small, agile bird with a plump body and a length of around 11 centimetres. It has a round head, a short, pointed bill, and a relatively large eye, which gives it its name. The plumage of the Silvereye is primarily olive-green, with a lighter green or yellowish underside. It has a conspicuous white eye-ring that stands out against its dark eye, and the feathers around the eye may have a hint of blue-grey or grey-brown colouration.

Habitat and Range

Silvereyes are native to Australia, New Zealand, and several Pacific islands. In New Zealand, they are commonly found throughout the country, including forests, scrublands, coastal areas, gardens, and urban parks. They have adapted well to human-altered habitats and can thrive in both natural and modified environments.

Feeding Habits

Silvereyes have a diverse diet that consists mainly of insects, fruit, nectar, and pollen. They are highly active foragers, often moving in small flocks as they search for food. They have a brush-tipped tongue that allows them to feed on nectar, and they play an essential role in pollinating native plants. Silvereyes also consume a variety of small invertebrates, such as spiders, caterpillars, and beetles.

Breeding and Nesting

Silvereyes breed during the spring and summer months. They form monogamous pairs and build delicate, cup-shaped nests using plant fibres, grass, moss, and spider webs. These nests are typically located in trees or shrubs, often concealed among foliage. The female lays a clutch of 2-4 eggs, and both parents take turns incubating them. After hatching, the parents share the responsibility of feeding and caring for the chicks until they fledge.


Conservation Status

Silvereyes are not considered a threatened species. They have a wide distribution and a large population size. Their adaptability to various habitats and their ability to utilise diverse food sources contribute to their relatively stable status. However, like many native bird species in New Zealand, they face threats such as habitat loss, predation by introduced mammals, and competition with other bird species.

Trees and Plant Preferences

Silvereyes are attracted to a wide range of trees and plants that provide them with food and shelter. They are often seen in gardens and orchards where fruit trees, such as apple, pear, and grapevine, provide a source of food. They also feed on the nectar of various native flowers, including flax (harakeke), kōwhai, and rātā.

Interesting Facts

  • behaviourSilvereyes are known to engage in "sunbathing" behaviour, where they expose their wings and feathers to sunlight, possibly for health or maintenance reasons.
  • These birds have a strong sense of direction and are known for undertaking long-distance migrations across the Pacific, including journeys between New Zealand and Australia
  • Silvereyes are highly social birds and are often observed in small flocks, especially during the non-breeding season.
  • They have a melodious, warbling song consisting of a variety of notes and trills.
  • Silvereyes have the ability to perceive ultraviolet light, which helps them locate food sources and detect ripe fruit