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 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'.
Silvereye/wax-eye song (MP3, 2,721K)
02:53 – Song at Apple Valley Road, west of Nelson.
Bird songs may be reused according to our copyright terms.
The silvereye is a small olive green forest bird with white rings around its eyes
Silvereye's mainly eat insects, fruit and nectar
Cats, rats and stoats are as great an enemy to silvereye as they are to other native birds.
The silvereye's Māori name is tauhou, which means "stranger" or more literally, "new arrival".
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
Help protect our native birds
When visiting parks, beaches, rivers, and lakes
- Only take dogs to areas that allow them, and keep them under control.
- 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.
- Don't drive on riverbeds, or keep to formed tracks if you have to.
Other ways to help
- Get your dog trained in avian awareness.
- Volunteer to control predators and restore bird habitats.
- Set predator traps on your property.
- Put a bell on your cat's collar and feed it well.