White-eyes

White-eyes are small passerine birds. They are found in narrow belt of a region from tropical to sub tropical Africa, then southern and Eastern Asia. With the exception of the Japanese White-Eyes introduced in Hawaii, most other Pacific islands have their own sub-species of White-Eyes.

The differences between the various species of White-eyes are minimal and difficult to distinguish, the plumage being generally greenish olive above, and pale grey below. Some species have a white or bright yellow throat, breast or lower parts, and several have buff flanks. Lastly, one outstanding feature, most species have a conspicuous ring of tiny white feathers around their eyes, as their names imply.

White-eyes are sociable birds, gathering themselves into large flocks, calling and foraging together. They would go separate ways on the approach of the breeding season. They are omnivorous - feeding on tiny fruits of flowering plants, insects and they also harvest nectar. Below is a long list of White-Eyes for the region of South -east Asia.

 

  1. Black-capped White-eye  
       
  2. Hume's White-eye

 

 
       
  3. Mountain Black-eye  
       
  4. Pygmy White-eye  
       
  5. Swinhoe's White-eye

 

 
       

 

Worldwide there are 96 species of birds within this family. Out of which South-East Asia has 24 species, narrowing down to the 2 species seen in Peninsula Malaysia [mark in orange in the table above]. The birds are properly distributed by their habitats geographically according to altitude. The Oriental White-Eyes most active in the Mangrove forest and open countries waste lands. The Everett's White-Eyes in the cooler sub-montane climate.

The Oriental White-Eyes are more ostentatious moving in larger flock with their tiny calls filling the air. They may remain at a spot for some minutes. So are the numbers of bird poachers out to collect them for the Pet shops trade. These days moving around the mangrove forest is no longer a guarantee that one would meet up with a White-eyes.

Few details are published on the net to give the finer points as to the diagnostic signs to look for in an effort to  differentiate the Everett's White-Eyes from the Oriental White-Eyes, the 2 species that we could see in Peninsula Malaysia. For this page I have got a couple of images that are good representations of the 2 birds. Looking at the pictures, the distinctions and differences are obvious and self explanatory. Hopefully that is one big uncertainty about doing a positive ID and the pictures help to have it resolved.

Next further down in the section with the main text for each bird, I have selected images that have consistencies in reflecting the characteristic for that particular sub-species. But here again I do not mean to confuse, in Malaysia, the 2 species both Everett's and Oriental White-Eyes are variants within the 2 main groupings.

They differs slightly from the main sub-species. Eventually the differences highlighted and supposing to help as diagnostic markings, mentioned earlier with the 2 pictures on top, some features actually appears on and overlap that of one another. More so when the birds are seen under various environment, lightings and angles

 

As I was getting to know a little more about birds in general, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that "White-Eyes" is one of the kept birds. In trying to find out more about the qualities that this bird displays that earn the birds its place in the heart of the selectors I was told that that the birds has a good singing abilities.

I know for a fact that the calls from the White-Eyes are not outstanding when compared to the top singers. Secondly the colors for plumage of the bird - nothing that I, as non-hobbyist , would find extraordinary. But slowly the real reasons came  to me. White-Eyes is a prized caged birds in Japan, they are known as "Mejiro". With the Japanese migrating to Hawaii, the bird  became an introduced species on the Islands. In fact, the Chinese had maintained this hobby of keeping caged birds since time in memorial. They claimed that a good song birds could have as many as 13 melodic calls. The Chinese until now picked  and collected birds according to their fancies. Their needs for the birds? Certain birds  are preferred for 1] their chirping 2] appearance 3] fighting abilities 4] acrobatic skills 5] mimicking skills.

The White-Eyes falls into category 2. - their good looks. The value they attached to the White-Eyes is some reasoning that we are unable to appreciate yet. We are not in this hobby of displaying birds. Briefing speaking, this White-Eye is a "up market" bird just like the way as we describe goods and "fine dining" when we grade the food we eat. The White-Eyes with its brilliant yellow color, petite body combined with its subtle chirping calls blend in well with an appropriately designed cage. That type of explanation, I could see now and also vouch that this bird is active.

It is fashionable to have a light weight cage with a matching bird to bring along to the morning tea session. Meeting up with the gang of cronies for fellowship and having the bird for conversational piece as well..

 

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