Zosterops (meaning "eye-girdle") is a genus of passerine birds containing the typical white-eyes in the white-eye family Zosteropidae. The genus has the largest number of species in the white-eye family. They occur in the Afrotropical, Indomalayan, and Australasian realms. Typical white-eyes have a length of between 8 and 15 cm (3 and 6 in). Their most characteristic feature is a conspicuous white feather ring around the eye, though some species lack it. The species in this group vary in the structural adaptations of the tongue.[1] The Zosterops [griseotinctus] group is an example of a "great speciator" inhabiting a vast area and showing a remarkable morphological differentiation on islands, some of which maybe as close as 2 km (1.2 mi) apart.[2]

Zosterops atricapilla 2.jpg
Black-capped white-eye
Zosterops atricapilla
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Zosteropidae
Genus: Zosterops
Vigors & Horsfield, 1827

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The genus Zosterops was introduced by the naturalists Nicholas Vigors and Thomas Horsfield in 1827.[3] The type species was subsequently designated as the Malagasy white-eye.[4] The name Zosterops combines the Ancient Greek words zōstēros "belt" or "girdle" and ōpos "eye".[5]

The results of a series of molecular phylogenetic studies published between 2014 and 2018 prompted a major revision of species limits, in which 10 new genera were introduced. In the reorganisation, the English names of three of the existing genera were replaced.[6][7][8][9][10]


There are over 100 species in the genus. This includes three species (denoted by a dagger in the list below) that have become extinct since the 16th century.[10]


  1. ^ Moreau, R. E.; Perrins, M.; Hughes, J. T. (1969). "Tongues of the Zosteropidae (white-eyes)". Ardea. 57: 29–47.
  2. ^ Moyle, R. G.; Filardi, C. E.; Smith, C. E.; Diamond, J. (2009). "Explosive Pleistocene diversification and hemispheric expansion of a "great speciator"". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 106 (6): 1863–1868. doi:10.1073/pnas.0809861105. PMC 2644129. PMID 19181851.
  3. ^ Vigors, Nicholas Aylward; Horsfield, Thomas (1827). "Australian birds in the collection of the Linnean Society; with an attempt at arranging them according to their natural affinities". Transactions of the Linnean Society of London (in English and Latin). 15 (1): 170-334 [234]. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.1826.tb00115.x. The title page is dated 1826.
  4. ^ Paynter, Raymond A. Jr, ed. (1986). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 12. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 290.
  5. ^ Jobling, J.A. (2018). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 12 May 2018.
  6. ^ Cox, S.C.; Prys-Jones, R.P.; Habel, J.C.; Amakobe, B.A.; Day, J.J. (2014). "Niche divergence promotes rapid diversification of East African sky island white-eyes (Aves: Zosteropidae)". Molecular Ecology. 23: 4103–4118. doi:10.1111/mec.12840.
  7. ^ Wells, D.R. (2017). "Zosterops white-eyes in continental South-East Asia. 1: proposed refinements to the regional definition of Oriental White-eye Z. palpebrosus". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 137 (2): 100–109. doi:10.25226/bboc.v137i2.2017.a12.
  8. ^ Wells, D.R. (2017). "Zosterops white-eyes in continental South-East Asia. 2: what is Zosterops auriventer Hume?". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 137 (2): 110–117. doi:10.25226/bboc.v137i2.2017.a13.
  9. ^ Lim, B.T.M.; Sadanandan, K.R.; Dingle, C.; Leung, Y.Y.; Prawiradilaga, D.M.; Irham, M.; Ashari, H.; Lee, J.G.H.; Rheindt, F.E. (2018). "Molecular evidence suggests radical revision of species limits in the great speciator white‑eye genus Zosterops". Journal of Ornithology. 160: 1–16. doi:10.1007/s10336-018-1583-7.
  10. ^ a b Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2019). "Sylviid babblers, parrotbills, white-eyes". World Bird List Version 9.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 25 January 2019.

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