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Some Changes in Mountain and Everett’s White-eye Taxonomy

By Christian Perez

Changes in the 2019 Checklist of the Birds of the Philippines

Those of you with a keen eye would have noticed that in the newly published 2019 checklist the Mountain White-eye has disappeared and has been replaced with the Warbling White-eye. Perhaps some would have also noticed that the Everett’s White-eye that used to be resident (R) is now near endemic (NE).

WBCP follows the taxonomy published by the International Ornithological Union (known as IOC). The changes to the White-eye taxonomy were introduced by IOC in January 2019 (IOC version 9.1). I will describe here how the changes came about. For those who are interested, the full IOC list is accessible at

The Mountain White-eye becomes Warbling White-eye

Briefly, the Warbling White-eye Zosterops japonicus is the result of the lumping of the Mountain White-eye Z. montanus with the Japanese White-eye Z. japonicus. The Mountain White-eye was a resident species ranging from Indonesia to the Philippines, with six subspecies in the Philippines. The six Philippine subspecies remain the same under the Warbling White-eye, so the Philippine is only affected by a change of English name and scientific name. The Japanese White-eye ranged from Sakhalin Island and Japan to Eastern China and Taiwan so the new Warbling White-eye has a wide range from Sakhalin Island to Indonesia.

To be complete I must mention that as part of the change some of the subspecies of the Japanese White-eye were split and rearranged to form a new species, the Swinhoe’s White-eye Z. simplex that ranges from Eastern China and Taiwan to the Malay Peninsula. However, that split does not affect the Philippines

For those with a particular interest in taxonomy, the change was proposed in a 2018 paper entitled Molecular evidence suggests radical revision of species limits in the great speciator white-eye genus Zosterops, by Bryan T. M. Lim, et al, an abstract of which can be seen at

The change is not yet reflected in eBird as they implement taxonomic changes once a year in August. We expect the changes to be reflected in eBird at the time.

Warbling White-eye, Baguio City (photo by Sylvia Ramos)

The Everett’s White-eye becomes a near endemic species

Before the change, the Everett’s White-eye Z. everetti ranged from Thailand, the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Talaud Island and the Philippines. The species was split as two subspecies were removed and rearranged to form a new species Hume’s White-eye Z. auriventer. The other six subspecies remain under the Everett’s White-eye. They include five subspecies that are endemic to the Philippines and one subspecies endemic to Talaud, a small Indonesian island about 200 kms south of Mindanao, making the Everett’s White-eye a near endemic species.

The six subspecies and their range are:

boholensis      Bohol, Leyte and Samar
everetti           Cebu
basilanicus    Basilan and Mindanao (and nearby islands)
siquijorensis  Siquijor
mandibularis Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (a nearby islands)
babelo            Talaud Island, Indonesia

The change was proposed in a 2017 paper entitled Zosterops white-eyes in continental South-East Asia by D. R. Wells, which can be downloaded here.

Everett’s White-eye basilanicus, PICOP, Surigao del Sur (photo by Sylvia Ramos)

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