Family Timaliidae

White-eyes are an extended Old World family of small insectivorous birds, with 95 species widely distributed across Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Pacific Islands. Of the six members of the White-eye family in Australia and its territories, the Silvereye is the only member in Canberra. Like other members in this family the Silvereye has a conspicuous white eye-ring.


Zosterops lateralis

These small, confiding birds feed at all levels in trees and shrubs on nectar and insects but readily vary this with soft fruits. Silvereyes will also eat all sorts of food put out by people. They are by far the most abundant, most recorded and widespread small native birds in the area.

Their annual pattern of abundance is highly consistent. During autumn and winter Silvereyes are often the most common birds in mixed flocks of small birds moving through an area. Flocks call constantly but the contact calls and songs are high pitched and low volume. Numbers generally were stable in the early years of the survey, but were slightly lower in the winters of 1981 to 1984. Since 1999-2000 there has been a steady and considerable decline in the numbers reported.

This is one of two very small native birds (the other is the Yellow-rumped Thornbill) that have many breeding records. Although they breed in gardens, their nests are not easy to find and most breeding records are of dependent young. Breeding records peaked in 1986-87, and have varied considerably in the ensuing years, to a much lower but fairly stable number of breeding events since 2001-02. Activities at nest occur from early October to mid-January and dependent young are seen mostly from mid-October to late February. The full breeding event takes about 10 weeks. R=8. BR=11.