Grey-backed Silvereye

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Image:GbSilvereye.JPG

Common Name: Grey-backed Silvereye
Scientific Name: Zosterops lateralis

Size: 4 - 4¾ inches (10-12cm)

Habitat: Australia; Endemic to Western Australia. Silvereyes frequent a diverse range of habitat types, including wet and dry sclerophyll forest and woodland, rainforest, mallee (e.g. Eucalyptus diversifolia, E. rugosa) shrubland, coastal heath, mangroves, farmlands, parks, gardens, orchards and vineyards. Some regional preferences are evident, with favored habitats including marri (Corymbia calophylla) and coastal heath in Western Australia; manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis)/peppermint (E. radiata) associations and red ironbark (E. sideroxylon) in the eastern States; Banksia spp. and Grevillea spp. shrublands; and fruiting trees and shrubs from suburbia and horticultural areas. Open savannah and arid areas are avoided.

Status: Least Concern to Threatened. Global population: Unknown. Nationally protected, but locally unprotected in some States and regions due to the horticulture industry.

Diet: Insect prey and large amounts of fruit and nectar. They puncture fruit with their sharp bills, creating small diamond-shaped holes and they lap at the flesh with their brush-tipped tongues. This makes them occasional pests of commercial orchards. Birds are seen alone, in pairs or small flocks during the breeding season, but form large flocks in the winter months

Nesting: Silvereye pairs actively defend a small territory. The nest is a small, neatly woven cup of grasses, hair, and other fine vegetation, bound with spider web. It is placed in a horizontal tree fork up to 5m above the ground. The nest is constructed by both sexes, who both also incubate the bluish-green eggs. If conditions are suitable two to three clutches will be raised in a season.

Cool Facts: Although one of Australia's smallest birds, the Silvereye is capable of travelling great distances during migration, with Silvereyes from the most southerly regions of Tasmania travelling all the way up to Southern Queensland.

Silvereyes probably cause the greatest damage to Australian horticulture of any native bird. They frequently damage wine and table grapes, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, blueberries, apricots, apples, pears, tropical fruit, olives, tomatoes and capsicum. Losses are particularly severe when native nectar sources are unavailable and during migration when high-energy food sources are sought. Nectar and native fruit are preferred over horticultural crops but are often in short supply due to clearing of native vegetation, during dry seasons through lack of flowers, or in excessive wet periods when nectar may become diluted. Although variable, higher nectar yields often occur following warm autumns and springs. Cooler temperatures during nectar production also increase nectar yields.


Found in Songbird ReMix Australia Volume II

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