Tag Archives: Oriental White-eye

Nesting of the Oriental White-eyes

A pair of Oriental White-eyes, Zosterops palpebrosus, chose to build a nest among the climbers at one end of our fifth floor landing. The nest is a small round cup about the size of a tomato. My neighbors first noticed the nest in late January.

There were already three little white eggs in it. Both parents took turn to sit on the eggs round the clock to incubate them. The Oriental White-eye was a common resident but disappeared due to the loss of mangroves in the 1970s. The present population may have come  from the small remnant group but most likely from mass introduction in the 90s.

Three hatched about 5 days of incubation.

Three hatched about a week of incubation.

On the morning of 3rd February, two chicks hatched. The third chick hatched the next day. They were all naked without any feathers. Their huge eyes were closed. The parents did not feed them during the first two days. They just sat on them to keep them warm and safe from harm. The parents started bringing back food on the third day. The feeding was not intensive with the parents spending time sitting on and protecting the chicks.


Only two 4 days old chicks survived.  Eyes are still closed.

Only two chicks survived 5 days after hatch. Eyes are still closed.

The five days old chicks looked big but still featherless. But only two survived. What happened  to the third chick? Has it been predated, fallen out or died? I went to the lower floor but could not find it.

The two chicks tripled their size after nine days. Their eyes are fully opened now. Spiky feathers covered their bodies. The parents now did not have to sit on them to keep them warm. But instead they were busy out looking for insects like grasshoppers to feed them.

The spiky feathers turned into soft greenish feathers on the 11th day. Both parents are now feeding them every few minute. The parent would give a short cheep to let the chicks know it was back. Both would quickly open their mouths and stuck out their necks to get fed. The chick that stuck its mouth higher would get fed. Survival of the fittest. To save energy they kept still in between the feeding sessions.

The two twelve days old chicks now filled the nest. In the afternoon we were surprised to find both chicks out of the nest. They were sitting side by side on a vine next to the nest. They returned to the nest to roost later in the evening.

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Jail birds. The metal mesh on the inside gave them extra protestion. One day before fledging.

It is now 13 days after hatch. The parents were still busy feeding them this morning. It was bringing back what looks like buah cherries for the chicks who swallow it whole. When I check around lunch the nest was empty. I went down to the lower floors to see if they have fallen but could not find them. Later in the day, I saw one of the parent coming back to look for the chicks. I like to think that they had fledged but not sure why they don’t hang around to be fed.

Reference: Lim Kim Seng. The Avifauna of Singapore. 2009. Nature Society (Singapore)