Bonin white-eye (Apalopteron familiare)

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Bonin white-eye perched
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Bonin white-eye fact file

Bonin white-eye description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyZosteropidae
GenusApalopteron (1)

A small, subtropical bird, the Bonin white-eye (Apalopteron familiare) has stunning yellow and olive-green plumage. The underside of this species is pale yellow with stripes of grey along each side. It has very distinctive facial markings, including a black patch that extends from below the eye to join with a black line on the forehead. The eye is surrounded by a brilliant white ring which gives the bird its common name, ‘white-eye’ (2).

The Bonin white-eye has strong, black legs, rounded wings and a slender, pointed bill with a brush-tipped tongue (3).

Also known as
Bonin honeyeater.
Size
Length: 13.5 cm (2)
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Bonin white-eye biology

The diet of the Bonin white-eye consists of papaya, banana and other fruits, as well as insects and flowers. This species has strong toes and claws that are well adapted to both arboreal and terrestrial foraging. The Bonin white-eye is very skilled at climbing tall grasses and angled tree trunks, and is generally found feeding two to six metres off the ground (2) (4).

The nest of the Bonin white-eye is usually found in the fork of a tree, or sometimes in a tree cavity about one to three metres up from the ground. The deep, cup shaped nests are layered structures of twigs, dead leaves and moss. The breeding season occurs between March and June and the female Bonin white-eye usually lays a clutch of two eggs. Both the male and female work together to incubate the eggs and feed the young (2) (4).

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Bonin white-eye range

The Bonin white-eye is endemic to the Japanese Ogasawara Islands. Historically it occurred on both Muko-jima and Chichi-jima Island groups, but recently the Bonin white-eye has only been recorded on the Haha-jima Island group (2).

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Bonin white-eye habitat

The Bonin white-eye tends to favour well-developed undergrowth in forests, as well as other low-lying bushes and vegetation. It also inhabits rural gardens and plantations (2).

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Bonin white-eye status

The Bonon white-eye is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Bonin white-eye threats

At present, the Bonin white-eye population is declining. The biggest threat is habitat loss, with nearly all of the original subtropical forest habitat of the Bonin white-eye having been cleared. Habitat loss is one of the main factors that has led to the extinction of this species on several islands (4).

Human settlement on the Ogasawara Islands in 1830 resulted in the introduction of the domestic cat (Felis catus) which quickly became feral. The number of cats now on the island is believed to be in the hundreds, and this is having an adverse effect on numbers of the Bonin white-eye (5).

The Bonin white-eye is especially at risk from economic development on Haha-jima, as a result of development for tourism. This is because of the consequent reduction in forest cover on the islands (4) (6).

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Bonin white-eye conservation

The Ogasawara Islands are now a designated National Wildlife Protection Area, which was set up aiming primarily to conserve the Bonin white-eye. A conservation programme is underway in the protection area, which includes the re-introduction of threatened native plants (2).

Plans for future conservation efforts include surveying islands in this species’ range to determine exactly which islands still support populations and if these islands require the implementation of conservation measures. Conservation and restoration of the habitat of the Bonin white-eye will help to increase population numbers. Additional measures include investigating the possibility of reintroducing the Bonin white-eye to other islands in Ogasawara (2).

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Find out more

Find out more about the Bonin white-eye:

Learn more about the conservation of the Bonin white-eye’s habitat:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

This species information was authored as part of the ARKive and Universities Scheme.
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Glossary

Arboreal
An animal which lives or spends a large amount of time in trees.
Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Feral
Previously domesticated animals that have returned to a wild state.
Incubate
To keep eggs warm so that development is possible.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (August, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. BirdLife International (August, 2011)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=5301&m=0
  3. Forshaw, J. (Ed.) (1991) Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. Merehurst Press, London.
  4. BirdLife International (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: The BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. Available at:
    https://www.globalconservation.info/rudy/index.html
  5. Kawakami, K. and Higuchi, H. (2002) Bird predation by domestic cats on Hahajima Island, Bonin Islands, Japan. Ornithological Science, 143: 143-144.
  6. BirdLife International - Asia Strategy - Japanese Forests (August, 2011)
    http://www.birdlife.org/action/science/species/asia_strategy/pdf_downloads/forestsFO2.pdf
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Image credit

Bonin white-eye perched  
Bonin white-eye perched

© Peter Fraser

Peter Fraser
2 The Parade
Truro
Cornwall
TR1 1QE
United Kingdom

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