November 22 2016


The Well-Travelled Silvereye

You may have seen Silvereyes across Perth, the south west or perhaps even in your own backyard. They are a common species of bird native to Australia, found mainly in south western, Western Australia. Silvereyes get their name from the thin white coloured rings around their eyes – it almost looks like they’re wearing tiny little glasses. Silvereyes amazingly are an adaptable little bird, proving to have the ability to spread to new habitats with ease. Understanding the migration and distances travelled by these birds is quite tricky; however recent banding studies taken place in the Perth metropolitan area has revealed something pretty impressive about these little birds.

In 2012, Rottnest Island was re-established as a cooperative bird banding site. Bird banding research allows tracking of individual birds to assist in understanding species movements and home ranges. Rottnest Island joined this study along with Herdsman Lake and Bold Park, with the joint aim of gathering useful data on this particular species of bird. Since 2012, a total of 311 Silvereyes have been banded on Rottnest Island and already some interesting discoveries have been made. 

A Silvereye banded at Herdsman Lake in April 2009 was recaptured three years later on Rottnest Island, in May 2012 – that’s a travel distance of over 29km! Then, again in February 2013, a Silvereye banded on Rottnest Island was recaptured only two months later at Bold Park. Travelling across the open water from Rottnest Island to the mainland is a pretty incredible journey considering these little birds typically weigh less than 10 grams.

With only a relatively small number of Silvereyes tracked across the three banding points of Herdsman Lake, Bold Park and Rottnest Island, it suggests that Silvereyes travelling across the open water between Rottnest and the main land is not unusual activity. We look forward to finding out more on the impressive Silvereye travel patterns as more information is gathered from these studies – stay tuned!  

Please remember that Rottnest Island is an A-Class Reserve renowned for its high conservation and community values. All plants and animals on Rottnest Island are protected by law. Wildlife shouldn’t be disturbed and we encourage you to observe from a reasonable distance. Please enjoy these natural wonders during your visit and appreciate the need to conserve this island paradise for future generations to enjoy!

-    - The Rottnest Island Team

SANSOM.J and BLYTHMAN.M 2015. From Perth to Rottnest and Back Again: Silvereye movements across open water. The Western Australian Naturalist. Volume 30: 53-54