Japanese White-eye eats Carmona retusa fruit

on 26th January 2011

Jason Cho’s image of the Japanese White-eye (Zosterops japonica) shows the bird about to swallow a fruit of Carmona retusa (Boraginaceae).

This is small shrub of the Old World tropics with clusters of small, simple and toothed leaves that are covered with short rigid hairs. Flowers are small and white and fruits roundish, 5-6 mm diameter that ripen yellow or red. Each fruit has 1-4 seeds.

It was once commonly used as a hedge plant. It can be easily shaped in topiary and conditioned into bonsai. Jason’s documentation of the Japanese White-eye eating the fruit is proof that the plant is actively being dispersed throughout Singapore. Isolated plants can be found in gardens and waste grounds.

The plant was previously known as Ehretia microphylla and Cordia microphylla.

This post is a cooperative effort between and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

2 Responses

  1. I have seen white-eyes on this plant at NUS too. It seems to be a favourite, probably because the fruits are small enough for this narrow-gaped bird to swallow easily. They struggle with larger fruits and don’t seem to be able to swallow anything much more than 8-9 mm in diameter.

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