Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database


For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
 
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EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Extinct
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
 
List of Migratory Species (13/07/2000) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000b) [Legislative Instrument].
 
List of Migratory Species - Amendment to the list of migratory species under section 209 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (26/11/2013) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2013af) [Legislative Instrument].
 
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Critically Endangered (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
NGO: Listed as Critically Endangered (PE) (The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010)
Scientific name Zosterops albogularis [25899]
Family Zosteropidae:Passeriformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author Gould, 1837
Infraspecies author  
Reference  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map not available for this taxon.
Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Zosterops albogularis

Common name:White-chested White-eye

Other names: White-breasted White-eye, White-chested Silvereye

The White-chested White-eye is a conventionally accepted species (Christidis & Boles 1994; Schodde & Mason 1999).

The White-chested White-eye was 13–14 cm long and was dull olive on the upper side of the body, with brown irides, a broad white ring around each eye, a dark stripe around the lores, and a black bill. It was mostly off-white on the under side of the body, with rich-brown flanks and sides to the breast, lemon-yellow undertail coverts, and grey or blue-grey legs and feet. The sexes were identical in appearance (Higgins et al. 2006a).

The White-chested White-eye was a predominantly solitary bird (Hermes 1985; Mees 1969), but it sometimes occurred in groups of 2–3 (Bell 1990; McKean et al. 1976; Moore 1999; Rooke 1986; Waugh 1988), and is also claimed to have occurred in flocks (Hull 1909).

The White-chested White-eye was formerly common and widespread on Norfolk Island (Hermes 1985; Hull 1909; Schodde et al. 1983). By the 1970s, the species was confined to weed-free indigenous forest in and around the Norfolk Island National Park (Bell 1990; Guymer 1998; Rooke 1986; Schodde et al. 1983).

There have been scattered sightings since 1978 (BirdLife International 2012a; Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hermes et al. 1986; Moore 1981, 1999; Schodde et al. 1983), although a comprehensive three-week survey in November 2009 based on 353 point counts failed to find the species (BirdLife International 2012a) and is evidence that the species is extinct. Other formal searches (eg. Bell 1990; Hermes et al. 1986; Rooke 1986) have also failed to find the species.

The White-chested White-eye was recorded during a census of the Norfolk Island avifauna in 1978 (Schodde et al. 1983), but extensive surveys in 1983–1985, 1987 and 1989 failed to locate any birds (Bell 1990; Hermes et al. 1986; Robinson 1988; Rooke 1986). There have been recent scattered sightings of the species, but it has not been recorded in any formal surveys since the 1970s (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

Sporadic reports of the White-chested White-eye since the 1980s (Garnett 2007 pers. comm.; Garnett & Crowley 2000) suggest that a small population of about 20 adult birds could persist on Norfolk Island (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The White-chested White-eye was formerly common and widespread on Norfolk Island (Hermes 1985; Hull 1909; Schodde et al. 1983). Its numbers began to decline at the end of the 19th century (Schodde et al. 1983), coincident with the arrival of the Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) (Hermes 1985). By 1962, the population was estimated at less than 50 birds (Mees 1969). Its numbers had probably declined further by the late 1970s, by which time it had become restricted to a small number of sites in and around Norfolk Island National Park (Bell 1990; Moore 1981; Rooke 1986; Schodde et al. 1983). It was not recorded during extensive surveys conducted between 1983 and 1989 (Bell 1990; Hermes et al. 1986; Robinson 1988; Rooke 1986), but it was reported by experienced observers on more than 20 occasions from 1987 to 2000 (Bell 1990; Garnett & Crowley 2000; McCoy 1997; Moore 1999; Waugh 1988). It has also been reported on several occasions since 2000 and most recently in November 2006 (Holdaway & Christian in litt. to Garnett 2007 pers. comm.).

Prior to its decline, the White-chested White-eye inhabited tall rainforest with a canopy dominated by trees such as Norfolk Island Hibiscus (Lagunaria patersonia), Ironwood (Nestegis apetala), Acronychia simplicifolia, Little Yellow Wood (Zanthoxylum pinnatum), Scrub Bloodwood (Baloghia lucida), Dysoxylum patersonianum, Maple (Norfolk Island) (Elaeodendron curtipendulum), Whitewood (Celtis paniculata) and Siah's Backbone (Streblus pendulinus), with creepers and emergent Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla). The understorey consisted of smaller trees and shrubs, and a ground-layer of ferns, orchids, liverworts and mosses (Bell 1990; McKean et al. 1976; Robinson 1988; Schodde et al. 1983). 

The White-chested White-eye was frequently recorded in disturbed habitat in the decades preceding its presumed extinction, including: in rainforest in which the understorey had been thinned and most ground-cover removed (Smithers & Disney 1969); in rainforest or previously-cleared areas that had been invaded by introduced weeds such as Lantana (Lantana camara), Olive (Olea europaea), Avocado (Persea americana), Yellow Guava (Psidium guajava) and Broad-leaved Pepper Tree (Schinus terebinthifolius) (Bell 1990; Mees 1969; Robinson 1988; Rooke 1986); at forest margins and beside roads and open tracks (Rooke 1986); and in the gardens of Norfolk Island residents (Hull 1909; Rooke 1986).

There are few accepted breeding records for the White-chested White-eye. A description of the nest and eggs by Hull (1909) is believed to refer to the Silvereye (Mees 1969), while a description of the nest and eggs of the Slender-billed White-eye by North (1899) probably refers to the White-chested White-eye (Higgins et al. 2002). This latter account describes the White-chested White-eye as breeding from October to December (Matthews 1928), building an open cup-shaped nest from a combination of dry grass, moss, roots and hair. The nest was reportedly suspended from a forked branch or twig (Matthews 1928; Mees 1969; North 1899). Clutches consisted of two pale blue eggs (Matthews 1928; North 1899).

The White-chested White-eye fed on fruit (including fruit of Olive, Lemon (Citrus limon) and Lantana) and insect larvae (Bell 1990; Hermes et al. 1986; Mees 1969; Rooke 1986).

The White-chested White-eye foraged in trees and shrubs including Norfolk Island Pine, Norfolk Island Hibiscus and Lantana (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hermes 1985; Hermes et al. 1986; Mees 1969; Rooke 1986; Waugh 1988). It gleaned invertebrates from foliage and twigs (Mees 1969; Waugh 1969), probed branches and leaves (McKean et al. 1976), and plucked fruit from olive shrubs (Mees 1969).

The White-chested White-eye was similar to the Slender-billed White-eye (Zosterops tenuirostris) and the Silvereye, but can be distinguished from the other two species by its larger size and by differences in the colour and patterning of the plumage (Hermes 1985; Higgins et al. 2002).

The White-chested White-eye was not difficult to detect when abundant. It was not shy or difficult to view in its normal habitat, and was known to frequent the gardens of Norfolk Island residents (Hull 1909; Rooke 1986). Once the population size became very small, however, detection became difficult.

The extinction of the White-chested White-eye was probably caused by a combination of predation and habitat loss. The species suffered predation by the Black Rat (Rattus rattus), which was introduced to Norfolk Island in the 1940s and is now present in large numbers, and possibly also by the Cat (Felis catus) and the Pacific Rat (Rattus exulans). In addition, habitat loss caused by the extensive clearance of native rainforest and the invasion of native rainforest by introduced weeds reduced the area available to the species. It is also possible that competition with the naturally introduced Silvereye, and the collection of birds by naturalists, could have played a role in the decline of this species (Bell 1990; Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hermes 1985; Rooke 1986; Schodde et al. 1983).

Recovery actions specific to the White-chested White-eye are unlikely to be funded unless a surviving population can be located and secured. The Action Plan for Australian Birds (Garnett & Crowley 2000) recommends the following recovery actions for the White-chested White-eye:

  • Establish and maintain a stable population in Norfolk Island National Park.
  • If birds can be located, establish a captive breeding population, with a view to introducing the species to Phillip Island following revegetation work.
  • Establish cooperative rodent and cat control programs throughout Norfolk Island with a view to rat eradication.

No specific recovery, conservation or threat abatement plans have been produced for the White-chested White-eye. Bell (1990) was unable to confirm the existence of the species during surveys in 1989, but he believed that a small population still persisted on the island, and recommended a suite of management actions to be implemented to benefit the White-chested White-eye and other native birds and fauna. A brief recovery outline for the species is featured in The Action Plan for Australian Birds (Garnett & Crowley 2000).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 (Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley, 2000) [Cwlth Action Plan].
Climate Change and Severe Weather:Habitat Shifting and Alteration:Habitat loss, modification and/or degradation Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Felis catus (Cat, House Cat, Domestic Cat) Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation Rattus rattus (Black Rat, Ship Rat) Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Problematic Native Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation Zosterops lateralis (Silvereye) Norfolk Island Region Threatened Species Recovery Plan (Director of National Parks (DNP), 2010a) [State Recovery Plan].
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Zosterops albogularisin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006aam) [Internet].

Bell, B.D. (1990a). The Status and Management of the White-breasted White-eye and Other Birds on Norfolk Island. Report to Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, Canberra.

BirdLife International (2012a). Zosterops albogularis. IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. [Online]. www.iucnredlist.org.

Christidis, L. & W.E. Boles (1994). The Taxonomy and Species of Birds of Australia and its Territories. Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union Monograph 2. Melbourne, Victoria: Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union.

Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/action/birds2000/index.html.

Guymer, A., ed. (1998). Bird sightings. Norfolk Nature Notes. 13:478-479.

Hermes, N. (1985). Birds of Norfolk Island. Wonderland Publications, Norfolk Island.

Hermes, N., O. Evans & B. Evans (1986). Norfolk Island birds: a review. Notornis. 33:141-149.

Higgins, P.J., J.M. Peter & S.J. Cowling, eds. (2006a). Boatbill to Starlings. In: Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. 7. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Hull, A.F.B. (1909). The birds of Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales. 34:636-693.

Matthews, G.M. (1928). The Birds of Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands and the Australasian South Polar Quadrant with Additions to The Birds of Australia. Author, London.

McCoy, H. (1997). Bird sightings. Norfolk Nature Notes. 12:459.

McKean, J.L., O. Evans & J.H. Lewis (1976). Notes on the birds of Norfolk Island. Notornis. 23:299-301.

Mees, G.F. (1969). A systematic review of the Indo-Australian Zosteropidae (Part III). Zoologische Verhandelingen. 102:1-390.

Moore, J.L. (1981). Norfolk Island notes 1971 to 1980. Notornis. 28:50-56.

Moore, J.L. (1999). Norfolk Island bird notes, 1977 to 1997. Notornis. 46:354-364.

North, A.J. (1899). Nests and eggs of birds found breeding on Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. Australian Museum Catalogue. 12:407-416.

Robinson, D. (1988). Ecology and management of the Scarlet Robin, White-breasted White-eye and Long-billed White-eye on Norfolk Island. Report to Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service, Canberra.

Rooke, I. (1986). Survey of the White-breasted White-eye and the Norfolk Island Boobook Owl on Nofolk Island, October-November 1985. RAOU Report 20. Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union, Melbourne.

Schodde, R. & I.J. Mason (1999). The Directory of Australian Birds: Passerines. Melbourne, Victoria: CSIRO.

Schodde, R., P. Fullagar & N. Hermes (1983). A review of Norfolk Island birds: past and present. Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service Special Publication. 8.

Waugh, P. (1988). Sighting of the White-breasted White-eye. Norfolk Nature Notes. 4:252-253.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Zosterops albogularis in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:31:14 +1000.