Sangkar White-eye Zosterops melanurus

Panji G. Akbar and Bas van Balen
Version: 2.0 — Published June 18, 2020


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As is the case with other information regarding its biology, the behavior of this newly split species is not well understood and much of the available information is most likely associated with pre-split species from other regions. Generally, their behaviors are similar to other white-eyes, and they are very active at the top of the canopy, and are highly gregarious, where they may form flocks of more than a hundred individuals.


Walking, Running, Hopping, Climbing, etc.

They are rarely on the ground, but they move by hopping when the are (i.e., when bathing in puddle).


Flies with direct, fast flaps and without undulation (20).


Preening, Head-Scratching, Stretching, Bathing, Anting, Etc.

Very little information. Has been observed bathing in small puddles on a dry riverbed together with Little Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula westermani) and Indigo Flycatcher (Eumyias indigo) (W. K. Wibowo, personal communication). Also frequently bathes in captivity. Other species of Zosterops are also known to actively rub against wet foliage, such as in Warbling White-eye (Z. japonicus; 25), but no published information of such behavior from this species.

Allopreening is mentioned to be extremely common in other Zosterops species (26), and has been observed in Sangkar White-eye several times (I. Taufiqurrahman, personal communication).

Sleeping, Roosting, Sunbathing

Similar to other white-eyes, they sleep with their head tucked in back feathers, often with one leg withdrawn into feathers. Multiple birds often roost together.

Daily Time Budget

No Information.

Agonistic Behavior

None described for this species yet, but behaviors are likely similar to other white-eyes, including open beak, beak clatter, wing flick, and body fluffing, among other behaviors (27, 28).



No information, but birds likely maintain a small territory in the breeding season as in other Zosterops species.

Individual Distance

No information, but up to five birds have been observed roosting tightly together (presumably a family group, PGA).

Sexual Behavior

Little known information, but pair-bonds are seemingly maintained throughout the year in captivity (PGA). Birds possibly mate for life, but observations regarding overall pair bond behavior is lacking.

Social and Interspecific Behavior

Degree of Sociality

Highly gregarious, they often occur in flocks of 3–30, and at times they may congregate in much larger flocks of more than 100. Where there is an abundant food supply, foraging flocks may contain 40 or more individuals, but in less favorable (e.g. drier) habitats, parties of 4–6 birds are more usual (BvB). However, big flocks may be becoming rare due to hunting pressure—for example, out of 68 sightings that were collected during Big Month 2020 (island-wide citizen science in January 2020), only 3 had more than 10 birds in one flock, with the majority of flocks consisting of only 2-3 individuals (29).


No information.

Nonpredatory Interspecific Interactions

Often a member of mixed-species foraging flocks, including with nuthatches (Sitta), tits (Paridae), Old World flycatchers (Muscicapidae), and minivets (Pericrocotus) (BvB).


Kinds of Predators

Birds in captivity have been reported to be predated by domestic cats (Felis catus) (PGA). Very little information from wild populations, but seemingly prone to any arboreal predator that feeds on small animals, such as sparrowhawks (Accipiter sp.).

Recommended Citation

Akbar, P. G. and B. van Balen (2020). Sangkar White-eye (Zosterops melanurus), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.sanwhe2.02