Archived 2016 topics: Javan White-eye (Zosterops flavus): uplist from Near Threatened to Vulnerable?

Zosterops flavus is currently assessed as Near Threatened on the basis that it has a highly restricted and fragmented range and is likely to be declining moderately as a result of habitat loss, but that the species could still be common where found. However, since this assessment the species seems to have disappeared from multiple sites across Java at which it was easily found just a few years earlier and trappers using decoy birds were observed targeting this species (Eaton et al. 2015). The habitat is still present and apparently unaltered in these locations (J. Eaton in litt. 2016). The situation along the southern coast of Kalimantan in recent years is largely unknown (J. Eaton in litt. 2016), although the species is still present (eBird 2016).

Very large numbers of white-eyes are sold in markets throughout Indonesia, chiefly Oriental White-eye Zosterops palebrosus, but 42 Javan White-eyes were observed over a three day inventory of the main markets on Java in 2014 (Chng et al. 2015) and a single bird was observed in a Singapore bird shop in 2015 (Eaton et al. 2015). Typically white-eyes are sold very cheaply and are incredibly popular cagebirds on Java (S. van Balen in litt. 2016).

On Java the species appears to have undergone a rapid to very rapid decline within the last ten years, and has virtually disappeared from multiple sites (J. Eaton in litt. 2016, S. van Balen in litt. 2016). The status and population trend on Kalimantan is unknown, aside from the fact that the species is still present. On the basis that the declines overall are likely to have exceeded 30% in 10.5 years (three generations) and are ongoing and the factors causing the declines have not stopped, the species is proposed to qualify for uplisting to Vulnerable under criterion A2d+3d+4d.


Chng, S. C. L., Eaton, J. A., Krishnasamy, K., Shepherd, C. R. & Nijman, V. 2015. In the market for extinction: an inventory of Jakarta’s bird markets. Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia: TRAFFIC.

Eaton, J.A., Shepherd, C.R., Rheindt, F.E., Harris, J.B.C., van Balen, S. (B.), Wilcove, D.S. and Collar, N.J. 2015. Trade-driven extinctions and near-extinctions of avian taxa in Sundaic Indonesia. Forktail 31: 1-12.

eBird 2016b. Paulo Alves: Checklist S22890624. Warna Sari—paddyfield, Kalimantan Tangah Countym Kalimantan, ID. Accessed 25th August 2016

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5 Responses to Archived 2016 topics: Javan White-eye (Zosterops flavus): uplist from Near Threatened to Vulnerable?

  1. James Eaton says:

    Both myself, Iwan Londo and Bas van Balen have noted the complete collapse of the species in Java. In the last five years I have only seen it at one site in west Java (and this site it is now very rare compared to even just 2-3 years ago). Many sites van Balen noted it as common 10 years ago, it has now completely disappeared, and it’s a rare sight in the Javan bird markets, presumably meaning there is a lack of wild birds, considered the large numbers of ‘regular, countryside’ birds.
    I would recommend getting comments from both Londo and van Balen for a proposed uplisting to Endangered.

  2. Serene Chng says:

    In addition to the trade observations already noted in the account above, 26 individuals were recorded in an inventory of five markets in Surabaya, Malang and Yogyakarta in June 2015 (Chng and Eaton, 2016), and none seen in Bandung in September 2016.

    Chng, S.C.L. & Eaton, J.A. 2016. In the Market for Extinction: eastern and central Java. TRAFFIC. Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

  3. Rob Martin (BirdLife International) says:

    The species has clearly declined rapidly at sites through West Java and likely at sites elsewhere. Bas van Balen (in litt. 2016) reported one site on the north coast of Java where the species has completely disappeared within the last 10 years. The evidence of the rate of decline across the entire range is equivocal. An Endangered listing would require more than half of the global population to have been lost within the past 10.5 years. At present the reported losses of sites for the species appear to correlate more closely with a rapid decline in the order of 30-49% within 3 generations. This is no trivial decline and represents the listing as a threatened species of what should be abundant within the coastal areas of Java and southern Kalimantan.

    Preliminary proposals
    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2016 Red List would be to adopt the proposed classifications outlined in the initial forum discussion.
    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 28 October, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    Please note that we will then only post final recommended categorisations on forum discussions where these differ from those in the initial proposal.

    The final 2016 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in early December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  4. Bas van Balen says:

    Please be aware that the population in Kalimantan is small and very scattered, few recent records. A survey along the north coast of Java and on Madura, were the species was still quite common 6-10 years ago, is urgently needed. Calling it still near-threatened as if nothing changed in the past 20 years seems to be too “cautious”.

  5. Rob Martin (BirdLife International) says:

    Comments have been received from Burung Indonesia (in litt. 2016) supporting the uplisting of this species to Vulnerable.

Comments are closed.