Principe White-eye Zosterops ficedulinus Scientific name definitions

Bas van Balen and Guy M. Kirwan
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020
Text last updated December 7, 2018

Sign in to see your badges

Welcome to Birds of the World!

You are currently viewing one of the free accounts available in our complimentary tour of Birds of the World. In this courtesy review, you can access all the life history articles and the multimedia galleries associated with this account.

For complete access to all accounts, a subscription is required.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in

Editor's Note: This is a shorter format account, originally published in HBW Alive. Please consider contributing your expertise to update and expand this account.


10·5 cm; 7–8 g. Adult has narrow buffish-white supraloral line, black band through lores, narrow but conspicuous white eyering; above, dark olive-green, washed brownish, top of head darker brown, rump and uppertail-coverts brighter and greener; remiges and rectrices blackish brown, edged olive-green, primary-coverts dark brown; side of head greyish white, mottled dark olive-grey, side of neck dark olive-brown; below whitish, tinged buffish yellow, throat and upper breast faintly streaked dusky, breast-sides and flanks washed olive-brown; underwing-coverts white; iris very pale brown; bill brownish horn; legs brownish grey. Sexes alike. Juvenile undescribed.

Systematics History

Closely related to Z. griseovirescens. Until recently considered conspecific with Z. feae. Monotypic.




Príncipe I, in Gulf of Guinea.


In forest canopy and tallest trees in plantations in hilly interior.



Diet and Foraging

Insects and berries. In pairs, family parties, and flocks of up to ten individuals; often in mixed flocks with Z. leucophaeus, Principe Sunbird (Anabathmis hartlaubi and Dohrn’s Warbler (Sylvia dohrni). Forages in canopy. Gleans insects from twigs, leaves and other vegetation.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Poorly known. No complex song has been recorded. Contact calls “prrrip, prrriip…”; flight calls high-pitched weak “pink-pink-pink…”, and during foraging chippering notes with thin buzzes and dry tuneless “tyup” or “tyew” described.


Lays from Sept onwards. Nest a neat open cup slung under forked twig; clutch 3–5 eggs. No other information.

ENDANGERED. Restricted-range species: present in Príncipe EBA. Population believed to be in ongoing decline and to number between 250 and 1000 individuals. Rare to locally uncommon. Has declined seriously and occurs mostly in pristine forests of the uplands in S & W of island. Habitat destruction has been extensive, but was for unknown reasons rare in past century, with 2–3 specimens collected in 1920s, and none seen in 1970s and 1980s; survives in the C massif, where it is mainly confined to primary forest, and more recently a flock was observed on R Papagaio. Recent point count surveys found this species to be one of the least-recorded species on island. Most observations since 1996 have come from within the boundaries of Príncipe Ôbo Natural Park, which is buffered by extensive secondary forest and abandoned plantations. Historically, large areas of primary forest were cleared for cocoa and coffee plantations. Land privatization is leading to an increase in numbers of small farms and clearance of trees. Some areas of secondary and primary forest are threatened by clearance for cultivation, timber and fuelwood collection, and it seems that the species is intolerant of habitat alteration. However, the island’s small human population its relative isolation from external markets mean that direct threats to the species’ habitat from agriculture and timber exploitation are currently limited.

Distribution of the Principe White-eye
  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Principe White-eye

Recommended Citation

van Balen, B. and G. M. Kirwan (2020). Principe White-eye (Zosterops ficedulinus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.