Ranongga white-eye Zosterops splendidus, photographed by Josep del Hoyo.

Belongs within: Yuhina.

Zosterops contains the typical white-eyes, a diverse group of small birds found in Africa, Asia and Australasia. Zosterops species possess slender pointed bills, generally green upperparts and pale greyish underparts, and usually a ring of small white feathers around each eye. Species boundaries within the genus have often been contentious, with authors differing on whether closely related allopatric forms should be treated as separate species. This is partly due to a lack of strong morphological differentiation between many species, but there are exceptions. For instance, four species from the Gulf of Guinea in Africa have been classified as a separate genus Speirops due to their lack of the green and yellow coloration of other species, but phylogenetically they are nested within Zosterops. Also previously separated was the mountain blackeye Chlorocharis emiliae of Borneo which is mostly olive-green in coloration with a prominent black ring around the eye.

Zosterops Vigors & Horsfield 1827 [incl. Nesozosterops Mathews 1912] CC10
    |--+--+--Z. nigrorum JT12
    |  |  `--Z. poliogastrus BKB15
    |  `--+--Chlorocharis emiliae JT12
    |     `--+--+--Z. atricapilla JT12
    |        |  `--+--Z. abyssinicus JT12
    |        |     `--Z. erythropleurus Swinh. 1863 JT12, M01
    |        `--+--Z. japonicus JT12
    |           |    |--Z. j. japonicus VP89
    |           |    `--Z. j. simplex VP89
    |           `--Z. montanus JT12
    `--+--+--Z. atrifrons JT12
       |  `--Z. chloris JT12
       `--+--+--+--Z. borbonicus BKB15 [=Certhia borbonica S66]
          |  |  `--Z. olivaceus BKB15
          |  `--+--+--Z. palpebrosus JT12
          |     |     `--+--Z. mouroniensis BKB15
          |     |        `--Z. semiflavus BKB15
          |     `--+--Z. mayottensis JT12
          |        `--+--+--Z. pallidus BKB15
          |           |  `--+--*Z. maderaspatanus CC10, JT12 [=Motacilla maderaspatana CC10]
          |           |     `--Z. modestus BKB15
          |           `--+--Z. lugubris BKB15 [=Speirops lugubris JT12]
          |              `--+--Z. kikuyuensis BKB15
          |                 `--+--Z. brunneus BKB15 [=Speirops brunneus MF09]
          |                    `--Z. melanocephalus BKB15 [=Speirops melanocephalus MF09]
          `--+--+--Z. citrinella JT12
             |  |    |--Z. c. citrinella M03
             |  |    `--Z. c. albiventris M03
             |  `--Z. luteus Gould 1843 JT12, WS48 [=Z. lutea WS48]
             |       |--Z. l. luteus [incl. Z. lutea hecla Mathews 1912, Z. lutea tribulationis Mathews 1912] WS48
             |       `--Z. l. balstoni Ogilvie-Grant 1909 (see below for synonymy) WS48
             `--+--+--+--Z. metcalfi JT12
                |  |  `--Z. stressemani JT12
                |  `--+--Z. rotensis JT12
                |     `--+--Z. cinereus JT12
                |        `--+--Z. oleagineus JT12 [=Rukia oleaginea MF09]
                |           `--Rukia MF09
                |                |--R. longirostra JT12
                |                |--R. ruki JT12
                |                `--R. sanfordi FP64
                `--+--+--Z. fuscicapilla JT12
                   |  `--+--Z. flavifrons JT12
                   |     `--Woodfordia JT12
                   |          |--W. lacertosa JT12
                   |          `--W. superciliosa JT12
                   `--+--+--Z. vellalavella JT12
                      |  `--+--Z. luteirostris JT12
                      |     `--+--+--Z. kulambangrae JT12
                      |        |  `--Z. splendidus JT12
                      |        `--Z. rendovae JT12
                      |             |--Z. r. rendovae MF09
                      |             `--Z. r. teteparius MF09
                      `--+--Z. lateralis (Latham 1802) JT12, CC10 [=Sylvia lateralis CC10]
                         |    |--Z. l. lateralis (see below for synonymy) CC10
                         |    |--Z. l. chlorocephalus M03
                         |    |--Z. l. cornwalli [incl. Z. familiaris] M03
                         |    |--Z. l. griseonota S13
                         |    |--Z. l. melanops Gray 1859 S13
                         |    |--Z. l. nigrescens Sarasin 1913 S13
                         |    |--Z. l. ochrochrous M03
                         |    |--Z. l. pinarochrous [incl. Z. halmaturina] M03
                         |    `--Z. l. vegetus [incl. Z. ramsayi] M03
                         `--+--+--Z. conspicillatus JT12
                            |  `--Z. saypani JF06
                            `--+--+--Z. griseotinctus JT12
                               |  `--Z. murphyi JT12
                               `--+--Z. inornatus JT12
                                  `--Z. rennellianus JT12

Zosterops incertae sedis:
  Z. albogularis Gould 1837 [=Nesozosterops albogularis, Z. albigularis, Z. gularis (l. c.)] CC10
  Z. anomalus JT12
  Z. atriceps JT12
  Z. auriventer S89
  Z. australasiae (Vieillot 1817) (see below for synonymy) WS48
  Z. buruensis JT12
  Z. ceylonensis JT12
  Z. chloronotus Gould 1840 JT12, WS48 [=Z. lateralis chloronotus M03; incl. Z. gouldi M03]
  Z. consobrinorum JT12
  Z. curvirostris G68
  Z. everetti JT12
  Z. explorator JT12
  Z. ficedulinus Hartlaub in Dohrn 1866 JT12, D66 [=Z. ficedulina D66]
  Z. finschii JT12
  Z. flavifrons JT12
  Z. flavus JT12
  Z. gibbsi JT12
  Z. grayi JT12
  Z. griseovirescens JT12
  Z. hesitata G68
  Z. hypolais JT12
  Z. hypoxanthus JT12
  Z. kuehni JT12
  ‘Speirops’ leucophoeus JT12
  Z. madagascariensis S66
  Z. mauritiana G68
  Z. meeki JT12
  Z. mesoxantha Salvadori 1889 S89
  Z. meyeni JT12
  Z. minor JT12
    |--Z. m. minor H03
    `--Z. m. tenuifrons H03
  Z. minutus JT12
  Z. mysorensis JT12
  Z. natalis JT12
  Z. nehrkorni JT12
  Z. novaeguineae JT12
  Z. salvadorii JT12
  Z. samoensis JT12
  Z. sanctaecrucis JT12
  Z. semperi JT12
  Z. senegalensis JT12
  Z. somadikartae JT12
  Z. stalkeri JT12
  Z. strenuus Gould 1855 CC10 [=*Nesozosterops strenuus CC10, Z. tenuirostris strenuus M03]
  Z. tenuirostris Gould 1837 [=Nesozosterops tenuirostris] CC10
  Z. tephropleura S13 [=Z. lateralis tephropleurus M03]
  Z. ugiensis JT12
  Z. uropygialis JT12
  Z. vaughani JT12
  Z. virens MF09
  Z. westernensis S13 [=Z. lateralis westernensis M03]
  Z. xanthochroa JT12

Zosterops australasiae (Vieillot 1817) [=Sylvia australasiae; incl. Z. australasiae edwini Mathews 1923, Z. shortridgii Ogilvie-Grant 1909, Z. gouldi warreni Mathews 1916] WS48

Zosterops lateralis lateralis (Latham 1802) [incl. Z. dorsalis Vigors & Horsfield 1827, Z. lateralis norfolkensis Mathews 1929, Z. lateralis tasmanica Mathews 1912, Z. halmaturina tasmanica] CC10

Zosterops luteus balstoni Ogilvie-Grant 1909 [incl. Z. lutea headlandi Mathews 1923, Z. lutea montebelloensis Ashby 1925] WS48

*Type species of generic name indicated


[BKB15] Burleigh, J. G., R. T. Kimball & E. L. Braun. 2015. Building the avian tree of life using a large-scale, sparse supermatrix. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 84: 53–63.

[CC10] Checklist Committee (OSNZ). 2010. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica 4th ed. Ornithological Society of New Zealand and Te Papa Press: Wellington.

[D66] Dohrn, H. 1866. Synopsis of the birds of Ilha do Principe, with some remarks on their habits and descriptions of new species. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1866: 324–332.

[FP64] Fisher, J., & R. T. Peterson. 1964. The World of Birds: A comprehensive guide to general ornithology. Macdonald: London.

[G68] Grant, P. R. 1968. Bill size, body size, and the ecological adaptations of bird species to competitive situations on islands. Systematic Zoology 17 (3): 319–333.

[H03] Heads, M. 2003. Ericaceae in Malesia: vicariance biogeography, terrane tectonics and ecology. Telopea 10 (1): 311–449.

[JT12] Jetz, W., G. H. Thomas, J. B. Joy, K. Hartmann & A. Ø. Mooers. 2012. The global diversity of birds in space and time. Nature 491: 444–448.

[JF06] Jønsson, K. A., & J. Fjeldså. 2006. A phylogenetic supertree of oscine passerine birds. Zoologica Scripta 35: 149–186.

[M01] Madarász, J. 1901. Madarak [Vögel]. In: Horváth, G. (ed.) Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazása [Dritte Asiatische Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] vol. 2. Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazásának Állattani Eredményei [Zoologische Ergebnisse der Dritten Asiatischen Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] pp. 21–39. Victor Hornyánszky: Budapest, and Karl W. Hierseman: Leipzig.

[M03] Morcombe, M. 2003. Field Guide to Australian Birds 2nd ed. Steve Parish Publishing.

[MF09] Moyle, R. G., C. E. Filardi, C. E. Smith & J. Diamond. 2009. Explosive Pleistocene diversification and hemispheric expansion of a "great speciator". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 1006 (6): 1863–1868.

[S89] Salvadori, T. 1889. Viaggio di Leonardo Fea nella Birmania e nelle regioni vicine. XIX.—Uccelli raccolti nei Monti Carin a nord-est di Tounghoo, nel Pegù presso Rangoon e Tounghoo e nel Tenasserim presso Malewoon. Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Genova, Serie 2a, 7: 369–438.

[S13] Sarasin, F. 1913. Die Vögel Neu-Caledoniens und der Loyalty-Inseln. In: Sarasin, F., & J. Roux (eds) Nova Caledonia: Forschungen in Neu-Caledonian und auf den Loyalty-Inseln. A. Zoologie vol. 1 pt 1 pp. 1–78, pls 1–3. C. W. Kreidels Verlag: Wiesbaden.

[S66] Schlegel, H. 1866. Communication from, on mammals and birds collected in Madagascar. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1866: 419–426.

[VP89] Viney, C., & K. Phillipps. 1989. Birds of Hong Kong 5th ed. Government Printer: Hong Kong.

[WS48] Whittell, H. M., & D. L. Serventy. 1948. A systematic list of the birds of Western Australia. Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of Western Australia, Special Publication 1: 1–126.

Last updated: 15 July 2019.

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