Menagerie Monday: Silvereyes, Spectacular Strangers

One of our very favorite New Zealand birds is the Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis), also commonly known as the wax-eye. It’s a very small (12 cm / 4.7 inches) passerine songbird. It is officially considered a native, having self-introduced when a flock migrating across  the Tasman Sea from Australia in the 1850s was apparently blown off-course by a storm and quite happily settled here. They are now one of New Zealand’s most abundant and widespread bird species and are also found on its offshore islands, as well as on many other Southwest-Pacific islands, including Fiji. Their most common Māori name is Tauhou (TOE-hoo), which means “stranger.” They are especially attracted to two of our garden plants, the Abutilon outside our west-facing kitchen window, and the fig tree that grows  on our east side. The figs are now ripe and the Silvereyes are feasting on them regularly, competing with their ten-times-larger rivals, the Tui (I’ll do a new post on them very soon) and the blackbirds. I made these photos a week ago, between rain squalls. (Please click on a photo if you’d like to see it in higher resolution.)

About krikitarts

Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
This entry was posted in Menagerie Monday, Portraits, Wildlife and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Menagerie Monday: Silvereyes, Spectacular Strangers

  1. cindy knoke says:

    Aren’t they gorgeous!

  2. Vicki says:

    Gorgeous photos.
    I’ve only got one (not-so-good) photo of a Silvereye. I suspect they blend in with the background and foliage too much.
    Your lovely photos not only show the details of the feathers really well, but you’ve got great backgrounds. They’re very attractive birds with that white eye ring.

  3. shoreacres says:

    The story of their ‘self-introduction’ is as interesting as the birds are attractive. I don’t remember hearing a story like that before. Well, except for some tales about sailors suffering the same fate. On my first offshore sail we’d set a course for one port but ended up in another thanks to weather. It happens.

    • krikitarts says:

      Ah, various winds will have their way with us, as we discover from time to time. I’ve learned to sail a small boat that belonged to my father in law and a windsurfer on our lake in MN, but the most adventuresome “real” sailing I’ve done was on Lake Superior. When the winds rise, there’s only so much you can do to stick to your original plan. And, actually, that’s a real part of the fun. Usually.

  4. Peter Klopp says:

    Spectacular is the right description for these lovely silvereyes. Photography at its best!

    • krikitarts says:

      I wish it were always so easy. When they’re feeding close by, they’re totally oblivious to my presence only a few meters away. Still, it’s a small challenge, even though it’s quite more easily met than many another. Thanks, Peter!

  5. That’s a lovely little bird and a lovely shot of it, Gary.

  6. Adrian Lewis says:

    Oh these are lovely pictures, Gary, and especially special to me as I know the genus Zosterops from Kenya, where they are called White-eyes, and where there are 3 species. Excellent! Adrian :)

    • krikitarts says:

      Thanks for that info, Adrian; it comes as a bit of a surprise, though if I’d bother to look it up, I probably would have come across it. I’m happier to have learned it from you, though–and even happier to know that your have a past relationship with these little feathered gems. They are still after our ripe figs, and I really should get out and do more with the opportunity. In fact, I’ve just resolved to do so. Thanks again!

  7. bluebrightly says:

    How interesting that a whole group was able to settle in, reproduce, and expand their range like that. The colors and sleek lines are so lovely and quiet-looking. I can imagine this little one would blend in and disappear pretty readily, at least in your fig tree. And Tui – reminds me of the TV program Top of the Lake that used to be on here. We really, really enjoyed it, and we still sometimes say to each other, “Where’s Tui?”

  8. Pingback: Menagerie Monday: The Talented Tui | krikitarts

  9. Pingback: Menagerie Monday: Figuratively Speaking | krikitarts

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