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).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Extinct as Zosterops strenuus
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] as Zosterops strenua.
List of Migratory Species (13/07/2000) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000b) [Legislative Instrument] as Zosterops strenua.
Amendment to the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (11/04/2007) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2007f) [Legislative Instrument] as Zosterops strenuus.
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] as Zosterops strenua.
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Extinct (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): December 2013 list) as Zosterops strenuus
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Extinct (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
NGO: Listed as Extinct (The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2010)
Scientific name Zosterops strenuus [25900]
Family Zosteropidae:Passeriformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author Gould, 1855
Infraspecies author  
Other names Zosterops strenua [66551]
Distribution map Species Distribution Map not available for this taxon.
Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Zosterops strenuus.

Common name: Robust White-eye.

Other names: Big Silvereye, Powerful Silvereye, Robust Silvereye, Big Grinnell.

The Robust White-eye is generally considered to be a conventionally accepted species of the Zosterops genus, which also includes the Pale White-eye (Z. citrinellus), Yellow White-eye (Z. luteus) and Silvereye (Z. lateralis) (Christidis & Boles 1994). However, some authors consider the Robust White-eye to be a subspecies of the Slender-billed White-eye (Z. tenuirostris) along with Z. t. tenuirostris of Norfolk Island (Schodde & Mason 1999).

The Robust White-eye was a large silvereye, with a wingspan of about 70 mm (Higgins et al. 2006b). It was mainly olive to olive-brown above, with a broad white ring around each eye, and a patch of grey across the shoulders and upper back. It was mainly brown to grey-brown below, with a yellow throat, cream belly, cream thighs and a yellow undertail (Higgins et al. 2006b; Schodde & Mason 1999). It had brown irises, a long and slender, blue-black bill, and blue-grey legs and feet (Mees 1969). The sexes were reportedly similar in appearance (Higgins et al. 2006b).

The Robust White-eye is thought to have occurred in small flocks (Etheridge 1889).

The Robust White-eye was said to have been present in 'great numbers' or 'thousands' on Lord Howe Island prior to its disappearance (Hindwood 1940; Hull 1909).

Although formerly considered to be numerous (Hindwood 1940; Hull 1909), numbers of the Robust White-eye declined rapidly after the Black Rat (Rattus rattus) was accidentally introduced to Lord Howe Island in 1918 (Hindwood 1940). The species was considered extinct by 1928 (Hindwood 1940; Sharland 1929).

The Robust White-eye inhabited lowland forest and palm glades (Higgins et al. 2006b; Hindwood 1938; Hull 1909). It also frequented more open habitats (Etheridge 1889) including settled areas. It is said to have foraged on crops, making it a pest bird to farmers on Lord Howe Island (Hindwood 1940).

The only breeding season recorded, for the Robust White-eye, was from a single clutch of eggs collected in mid-November (Hull 1909). The species reportedly built a cup-shaped nest, loosely constructed with a combination of palm fibre, grass and rootlets (Hindwood 1940; Hull 1909) and lined with finer similar material (Higgins et al. 2006b). The nest was usually placed in the crown of a Kentia Palm (Howea forsteriana), or in a vine-laden shrub (Hull 1909). The female laid a clutch of 2–3 pointed, oval, blue eggs (Higgins et al. 2006b; Hindwood 1940; Hull 1909).

The Robust White-eye probably fed mostly on fruit and insects, but it also ate the contents of eggs of other birds, and possibly seeds (Cleland 1911; Hindwood 1940; Hutton 1991). It is thought to have caused damage to fruit and other crops (Hindwood 1940), but was reportedly valued for its role in controlling weevil populations in Kentia Palm crops (Hutton 1991).

The Robust White-eye probably foraged mostly by gleaning and probing in trees and shrubs, as observed in other species of Zosterops (Higgins et al. 2006b). It also raided the nests of other birds (Hindwood 1940).

No information was recorded on the movements of the Robust White-eye, but the fact that it was not recorded anywhere other than Lord Howe Island (Mees 1969; Sibley & Monroe 1990) suggests that it was probably sedentary.

The Robust White-eye was similar in appearance to the extant (living) subspecies, Silvereye (Lord Howe Island) (Zosterops lateralis tephropleura), that is present on Lord Howe Island. However, the two could be distinguished by their size, with the Robust White-eye being considerably larger (wingspan about 70 mm) (Etheridge 1889; Higgins et al. 2006b; Hutton 1991).

The extinction of the Robust White-eye is thought to have been caused by predation by Black Rats (Rattus rattus), which were accidentally introduced to the island, after a shipwreck, in 1918 (Garnett & Crowley 2000; Hindwood 1940; Sharland 1929). The Robust White-eye was considered to be extinct within ten years of the rats arriving on the island (Hindwood 1940; Sharland 1929).

Higgins and colleagues (2006b) summarise the available information on the Robust White-eye and The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000 (Garnett & Crowley 2000) provides a brief outline of ecology, distribution and history of this subspecies.

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
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Zosterops strenuusin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006aan) [Internet].

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.

Cleland, J.B. (1911). Examination of contents of stomachs and crops of Australian Birds. Emu. 11:79-95.

Etheridge, R. (1889). The general zoology of Lord Howe Island. Australian Museum Memoirs. 2:3-42.

Garnett, S.T. & G.M. Crowley (2000). The Action Plan for Australian Birds 2000. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Environment Australia and Birds Australia. Available from:

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

Hindwood, K.A. (1938). The extinct birds of Lord Howe Island. Australian Museum Magazine. 6:319-324.

Hindwood, K.A. (1940). The birds of Lord Howe Island. Emu. 40:1-86.

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.

Hutton, I. (1991). Birds of Lord Howe Island: Past and Present. Coffs Harbour, NSW: author published.

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

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

Sharland, M.S.R. (1929). Land birds of Lord Howe Island. Emu. 29:5-11.

Sibley, C.G. & B.L. Monroe (1990). Distribution and Taxonomy of the Birds of the World. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press.

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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 strenuus in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Thu, 18 Sep 2014 02:12:34 +1000.