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Silver Eyes

Silver Eyes



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Published by draculavanhelsing
A fact sheet
A fact sheet

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: draculavanhelsing on Sep 01, 2010
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Fauna Note No. 25Silvereye
The Silvereye
 Zosterops lateralis
, is also known as theWhite Eye or Greenie. It is is a small olive-green bird withan obvious ring of white feathers around the eye (Figure 1).It is 11-13 cm in length and 8.5-10 g in weight and gives avariety of high-pitched calls – the contact call is a thin‘psee’.
Figure 1 Silvereye
 Zosterops lateralis
(Photo Tony Krikby / WAMuseum).
Distribution and Habitat
Silvereyes are common in many habitats in coastal and sub-coastal areas including thickets and forests, suburbangardens and orchards. In Western Australia, they are foundfrom Carnarvon to Kalgoorlie and Eucla and in the south-west (Figure 2).
 Silvereyes eat small insects throughout the year, takingthem from the ground, leaves, flowers, on and under bark and from the air. They also eat fruits including those fromBlack Nightshade
Solanum nigrum
, figs
sp., Grapes
Vitis vinifera,
 and other soft fruits. Nectar is a favoured food of Silvereyes and research has shown that the birds prefernectar to grapes.Silvereyes damage grapes and other soft fruits when theirnatural food supplies are scarce. This usually occurs duringsummer when the birds migrate to vineyards and orchards.When Marri
Corymbia calophylla
trees produce largeamounts of nectar in summer, damage to fruit is usuallyminimal.
The nest of the Silvereye is a small cup made of grass andspider webs, suspended from the branch of a shrub or tree(Figure 1). Between September and January (peak inNovember), 2-4 eggs are laid and the eggs are incubated byboth parents for 10-13 days. The young leave the nestabout 12 days after hatching.Some breeding pairs can produce up to 4 broods of youngin one breeding season and in good seasons, localpopulations can double during this time. The number of young birds in the population is highest in January.
Silvereyes occur in pairs or small parties as they rapidlymove about feeding areas, calling constantly. Large flocksof birds form in January and February, when the birdsmove inland as a result of a decrease in food supply in thecoastal breeding areas.
Silvereyes can cause severe damage to grapes by piercingthe skin with their sharp beaks to consume the juice andfruit. Grapes that are well-protected by vine leaves areoften subject to greater damage than more exposedbunches. This is possibly because the birds feel lessexposed to predators when feeding amongst the foliage.Damage to grapes by Silvereyes results in reduced yields of marketable fruit, higher cleaning costs in the table grapeindustry and a reduction in wine quality in the wineindustry. Stone fruit, figs and some vegetable crops arealso damaged by the birds.
Department of Environment and Conservation, Western AustraliaPage 1
DEC Fauna Note No. 25
Figure 2 Distribution of the Silvereye
 Zosterops lateralis
in Western Australia (Modified from Blakers
et al.
Department of Environment and Conservation, Western AustraliaPage 2
DEC Fauna Note No. 25
Status and Damage Reduction
The Silvereye is a declared pest of agriculture under theprovisions of the
 Agriculture and Related ResourcesProtection Act 1976 
, administered by the WesternAustralian Department of Agriculture and Food. Thisdeclaration allows for the approval and implementation of amanagement program in various areas of the state.As a native species, the Silvereye is protected under theprovisions of the
Wildlife Conservation Act 1950
,administered by the Department of Environment andConservation (DEC). Under this Act
Silvereyes can beshot on private land in accordance with an open seasonnotice without the need to obtain a damage licence fromDEC.
The area covered by the notice comprises thesouth-west land division.
Within this area Silvereyepopulations are secure and damage to agriculture is likelyto be a continual problem.Outside the open season area, a damage licence must beobtained from DEC prior to shooting. For moreinformation, contact DEC and refer to Fauna Note No. 9.Destruction of Birds to Reduce Damage. DEC, WesternAustralia.Destruction should be viewed as a last resort after all othercontrol options have been attempted. For othermanagement options see the table
Options for Reducing Damage Caused by Silvereyes
below. A strategycomprising a number of techniques will probably be neededto reduce damage caused by Silvereyes.
Preventing Damage
Enquire with neighbours before planting to determineif Silvereyes are present and if there is a history of damage.
Plant crops in large blocks because they have a smalleredge to area ratio and may suffer less damage.Silvereyes tend to damage outside rows first and mostseverely. Plant early or late maturing varieties awayfrom crop edges.
Plant crops away from native vegetation (whichSilvereyes rely on for nest, roost sites and food) wherethey are less likely to be damaged.
Plant rows parallel to native vegetation to reducedamage levels. This way, birds cannot easily fly downrows and penetrate into the heart of the crop to feed.
Minimise water supplies near the vineyard becauseSilvereyes appear to require fresh water when eatinggrapes.
Further Reading
Silvereye. Birds in Backyards, Australian Museum.
 Tracey, J. and Saunders G. (2003)Bird damage to the winegrape industry. A report to the Bureau of Rural Sciences,Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.Vertebrate Pest Research Unit, NSW Agriculture, Orange.Department of Environmental Protection and Water andRivers Commission, Western Australia (2002)Environmental management guidelines for vineyards. DEPand WRC, Western Australia.
Further Information
Contact your local office of the Department of Environment and Conservation.See the Department’s website for the latest information:
Last updated 12 December 2007.Disclaimer
This publication may be of assistance to you but the State of WesternAustralia and its officers do not guarantee that the publication iswithout flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particularpurposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss orother consequence which may arise from you relying on anyinformation in this publication.
Department of Environment and Conservation, Western AustraliaPage 3

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