Silvereye

Introduction

The silvereye/tauhou – also known as the wax-eye, or sometimes white eye – is a small and friendly olive green forest bird with white rings around its eyes.

Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) were self introduced in the 1800s and now have a wide distribution throughout New Zealand. They have made the forest their home and are now among the most common bird in suburbia too. 

The silvereye's Māori name is tauhou, which means 'stranger' or more literally, 'new arrival'.

Facts

The silvereye has a wide distribution throughout New Zealand. They can be found from sea level to above the tree line but they are not abundant in deep forest or open grassland.

Slightly smaller than a sparrow, the silvereye is olive-green with a ring of white feathers around the eye.

Males have slightly brighter plumage than females. They have a fine tapered bill and a brush tipped tongue like the tui and bellbird.

Silvereyes mainly eat insects, fruit and nectar.

The silvereye was first recorded in New Zealand in 1832 and since there is no evidence that it was artificially introduced, it is classified as a native species. Its Māori name, tauhou, means 'stranger' or more literally 'new arrival'.

Sound recording

Silvereye/wax-eye song (MP3, 2,721K)
02:53 – Song at Apple Valley Road, west of Nelson.

Our bird songs can be reused, even commercially, according to our copyright terms.

Threats

Cats, rats and stoats are as great an enemy to silvereye as they are to other native birds.

Our work

Silvereye are not threatened, so DOC doesn't have specific work programme for them.

Of course the work that DOC does in plant and animal pest control increases the quality of whole ecosystems, and therefore contributes to the ongoing success of many common birds, such as the silvereye, as well as ensuring the ongoing survival of our rarer more susceptible species.

DOC priorotises its work to protect the rarer species, in the context of their overall environment. This is encapsulated in the whakatauki (Maori Proverb):

“Tiakina nga manu, ka ora te ngahere Ka ora te ngahere, ka ora nga manu”

“Look after the birds and the forest flourishes. If the forest flourishes, the birds flourish.”

You can help

Emergency hotline

Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) immediately if you see anyone catching, harming or killing native wildlife.

On your property

  • Trap on your property.
  • Keep your cat in at night.

In your community

  • Find and volunteer with your local community group 
  • Trap in your community
  • Get kids or schools involved

See Predator Free 2050 Trust - get involved for information.

Visiting parks, beaches, rivers, and lakes

  • Check for pests when visiting pest-free islands.
  • Leave nesting birds alone.
  • Use available access ways to get to the beach. 
  • Avoid leaving old fishing lines on beaches or in the sea.
  • Follow the water care code and local navigation bylaws.
  • Do not drive on riverbeds, or keep to formed tracks if you have to.

With your dog

  • Only take dogs to areas that allow them, and keep them under control.
  • If you come across wildlife put your dog on a lead and lead it away. 
  • Warn other dog owners at the location.
  • Notify DOC if you see wildlife being harassed by people or dogs.
  • Get your dog trained in avian awareness.
  • Learn about the Lead the Way programme which encourages dog owners to become wildlife wise and know how to act to protect coastal wildlife.

Specific ways to keep wildlife safe while with your dog on beaches.

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