Mauritius olive white eye

Zosterops chloronothos

Photo: Stephanie Ragaven

Mauritius Olive White Eye

Species type: Bird
Species (Common name): Mauritius Olive White Eye, Oiseau à Lunettes
Scientific name: Zosterops chloronothos
Endemism: Endemic to Mauritius
Conservation status: Critically Endangered

Description: This small songbird grows to approximately 10 cm long. Its upperparts are a dull olive green while its underparts are paler. The distinctive white rings around its eyes have given rise to its French name oiseau à lunettes (”bird with glasses”). It feeds on nectar of native plants and may also eat fruits and insects.

Fun facts:

  1. The Mauritius olive white-eye has the dubious distinction of being Mauritius’s most endangered bird. Its current population consists of an estimated 100-150 pairs down from an estimated 350 pairs in 1975.
  2. The Mauritius Olive White-eye has the longest beak and tongue and is the most specialised nectar-feeder of the seventy-plus species in its genus (Zosterops).
  3. It is heavily dependent on native vegetation. Its curved bill is very well adapted to feeding on nectar of several native species including Trochetia species, a group of plants which is unique to Mauritius and Réunion.
  4. One possible cause for the decline in Mauritius olive white-eye numbers is completion for the nectar of native plants with the honey bee introduced to Mauritius about 300 years ago.
  5. Starting in 2005, Mauritian Wildlife Foundation has been leading species recovery efforts for the olive white-eye using strategies such as hand-rearing of chicks and release on Ile aux Aigrettes which is free from predators such as rats, monkeys and wild cats.