North Queensland Naturalist
North Queensland Naturalist 51: 119-126
In Australia, the Ashy-bellied (Pale) White-eye (Zosterops citrinella) is known from islands in Torres Strait and off Cape York Peninsula as far south along the east coast as Rocky Islets, 85 km northeast of Cooktown. In the literature it has been confused with the Silvereye (Z. lateralis), at time from locations well outside the Ashy-bellied White-eye’s known range. The identity of a population of white-eyes on Green Island, northeast of Cairns, has been controversial. Birders have recorded them as Silvereye but provided no supporting evidence, while others with photographic evidence have identified them as Ashy-bellied White-eye. While this species is an inhabitant of offshore islands, the northern subspecies of Silvereye (Z. l. vegatus) is a mainland bird and is fairly common on the mainland adjacent to Green Island. There appears to be no positive records of either species from the other’s range and there is no evidence that the two interbreed. In March 2021 I spent three days on Green Island observing white-eyes and all proved to be Ashy-bellied. This extends its known range southward from Rocky Islets on the east coast of Queensland by approximately 220 km.