Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas white-eye

Zosterops natalis

Photo by Jeff Blincow (Christmas Island Wildlife)

Common name:
Christmas white-eye (en); olho-branco-de-Natal (pt); zostérops de Christmas (fr); anteojitos de la Navidad (es); weißstirn-brillenvogel (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Zosteropidae

This species in endemic to Christmas Island. It has been introduced to Horsburgh island, in the southern Cocos Islands. 

These tiny birds are 11-13 cm long. They weigh 10-11,5 g.

It is found in all forested habitats on Christmas Island up to an altitude of 360 m. It also occurs in suburban gardens and weeds fields in abandoned mine sites.

They are mostly insectivorous, often seen hunting small Hemiptera, namely scale insects. They may also eat nectar and small fruits.

The Christmas white-eye mostly breeds during the wet season in November-May. They build a small open cup in a bush, where the female lays 2-3 pale blue eggs. The incubation time is 13-15 days and the young are fully fledged after 11-16 days. The parents continue to care for the young after fledging, for up to 2 months.

IUCN status – VU (Vulnerable)
Although the species is abundant in Christmas Island, their breeding range is very small and their population is estimated at 20.000 individuals. They are threatened by habitat loss and the introduction of exotic species.

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