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A photo of a Cape White-eye (Zosterops virens)
Cape White-eye

Cape White-eye

Zosterops virens

The Cape white-eye, Zosterops virens, is a diminutive passerine bird belonging to the white-eye family. It is characterized by a distinctive ring of white feathers encircling its eyes. The bird's upperparts are a verdant green, while the throat and vent exhibit a vivid yellow hue. Two subspecies are recognized: Z. v. capensis, with a grey breast and belly, and Z. v. virens, which sports a greenish-yellow breast and belly.

Identification Tips

This species measures approximately 12 cm in length, with rounded wings and robust legs. The white-eye's eye-ring is a key identifying feature, along with its green upperparts and bright yellow throat. The subspecies differ in their underparts coloring, providing a useful distinction for identification.


The Cape white-eye is commonly encountered in suburban areas, parks, and gardens, as well as a variety of mesic to well-watered environments.


The bird's range extends across southern Africa, including South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, and parts of Mozambique. It is a resident species, though some populations may exhibit minor seasonal movements.


A sociable bird, the Cape white-eye often forms large flocks when not breeding. It constructs a cup-shaped nest within a tree and lays 2-3 unspotted pale blue eggs. The incubation period lasts 11-12 days, with fledging occurring after another 12-13 days. Breeding peaks from September to December. The species is known for its frequent visits to bird feeders.

Song & Calls

The Cape white-eye is a vocal species, maintaining contact with soft trilled calls such as "pee," "pree," or "pirreee." Its song is a melodic composition of long, jerky phrases with sweet reedy notes that vary in pitch, volume, and tempo. It often begins with "teee teee" or "pirrup pirrup" and transitions into a fast-paced medley of notes, sometimes mimicking the calls of other birds.


During the breeding season, the Cape white-eye is less gregarious, focusing on nest-building and raising its young. The peak breeding months span from September to December.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Cape white-eye is diverse, including insects, soft fleshy flowers, nectar, fruit, and small grains. It is an adaptable feeder, often attracted to bird feeders in residential areas.

Conservation status

The Cape white-eye is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating a stable population without significant threats to its survival at present.

Cape White-eye Sounds

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