Australian Bush Birds
Silvereye  -  Zosterops lateralis
Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis cornwalli) at Casino, NSW, in October.
Silvereye Silvereye
Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis lateralis) in southern Tasmania in early January.
map map Eight Australian subspecies, or races, have been identified for the Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis). The name comes from a ring of white feathers around each eye. Subspecies (lateralis) photographed above, has bold white eye-rings, bright olive green head and wings; dark grey mantle, pale grey throat, breast grading to whitish under the tail. Rich brown flanks.

Subspecies (cornwalli), in the top photograph, is similar to lateralis with the same bold white eye-rings but has a bright yellow throat, light grey breast, rufous-buff to grey flanks and off-white belly. Under tail has a yellow tint readily seen in the photograph from below.

Females are similar to males in colouring but tend to be slightly paler than the male of the pair. However the female of one pair, although duller than her mate, may be brighter than the male in an adjacent pair. Juveniles are paler. Grows to 11-13 cm long.

Silvereyes are lively little birds, constantly active, with much calling as they move between plants feeding on wild or cultivated flowers, orchards and vineyard fruit.
Silvereye - page 2
Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) at Urunga. This is subspecies cornwalli as in the top photograph but some features are more easily seen here. Note the bright yellow throat, light grey breast, rufous-buff to grey flanks and off-white belly.
Common in Tasmania; widely present in southern Australia, along the east coast up to north Queensland, and the west coast up to about Carnavon. Quite a common bird, frequently seen in gardens.

Race lateralis breeds in Tasmania; after breeding, they gather into small groups then larger flocks and migrate north to escape the cold winter. They cross Bass Strait then disperse through Victoria, New South Wales into south-east Queensland and south-east South Australia. Silvereyes normally breeding in those parts of Australia have migrated further north leaving the area vacant for Silvereyes from Tasmania.

Migration routes are well established, mainly along the coastal plains where heathlands and gardens provide food sources. By day, migrating flocks move slowly through treetops and undergrowth feeding as they travel. Longer flights take place at night, usually at greater height.

lateralis makes the longest regular Silvereye migration. Silvereyes in northern Australia and southern Western Australia are locally nomadic. In summer all races should be in their breeding 'core' areas.

Lives in diverse habitats; eucalyptus woodland, forest, coastal heath, mallee, mangrove, and many others as well as gardens, orchards and vineyards.

Silvereyes usually pair permanently as juveniles in their first winter. They establish territories and older birds stay close to their territory but allow other birds to forage there. They often forage outside their own territory, especially when feedings nestlings and fledglings.

Breeds from August to January or February. The nest is a small cup, 65 millimetres in diameter, made of fine grasses, cobweb, hair, sometimes animal fur; and lined with fine material. The nest is usually suspended from small, almost horizontal branches, in outer foliage 1 to 5 metres above the ground. Male and female build the nest and share incubation and feeding.

Two to four, usually three, eggs are laid; plain blue or blue-green in colour; oval to tapered-oval in shape, about 17 by 13 millimetres. Incubated for 10 to 13 days. Young are fed insects first, later being fed fruit; they fledge in 9 to 12 days.

Migratory or nomadic, common to abundant. Also known as the Grey-backed Silvereye.