Mate selection and breeding activity of Cape white-eyes is not well known due to few observations. When breeding season begins in November or December, males perform elaborately loud songs for about twenty minutes after daybreak and late in the evening. Their warbles are similar across different subspecies and they may also perform a softer warble in order to coax the female. Both sexes also produce a long-drawn plaintive call followed by shorter calls. While these calls are being performed, an aerial show of horizontal wing quivering and nest building motions are also being exhibited by the males. Cape white-eyes form life-long monogamous pairs, and may form pairs as early as one month old.
Mating System: monogamous
Their breeding season can last for six months and usually occurs from September to December. Both males and females help construct a cup-shaped nest over a period of 5 to 9 days. The nest is constructed of old man’s beard (Usnea barbata), dry grasses, rootlets, and other such vegetation which is all held together by spider webs. Within this nest 2 to 4 pale blue eggs will be laid. Cape white-eyes have one of the shortest incubation periods of any birds which ranges from 11 to 12 days. Hatchlings initially weigh 2 g. It is also important to note that both females and males brood and feed the young. Once the chicks hatch they leave the nest after an estimated 12 to 13 days and stay close by during fledgling which lasts about three weeks. During these three weeks the parents continue to feed the fledglings fruit. While the fledglings are preparing to depart, a second clutch will usually be procured at a different nest site.
Breeding interval: An older pair of Cape white-eyes may lay as many as five clutches during a breeding season where a first year pair may not breed at all.
Breeding season: The breeding season takes place between September and December.
Range eggs per season: 2 to 4.
Range time to hatching: 10 to 12 days.
Average time to hatching: 11 to 12 days.
Average birth mass: 2 g.
Average fledging age: 12 to 13 days.
Average time to independence: 5 weeks.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 months.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 months.
Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); parthenogenic ; fertilization
Cape white-eyes put quite a bit of investment into taking care of their young. Both males and females participate in constructing a cup nest. The chicks are born altricial and helpless, and rely on both parents to brood, feed, and protect them. Both parents engage in attentive allopreening of the young and each other. When the young hatch the parents must find insects and later on fruit in order to feed them. A breeding pair will often begin a second clutch while still tending to the fledglings of the first.
Parental Investment: altricial ; male parental care ; female parental care ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); post-independence association with parents
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- Hully, P., A. Craig, G. Underhill. 2004. Timing of moult and breeding in the Cape White-eye, Zosterops pallidus, from three different geographical regions in South Africa. Emu, 104: "353-358".
- Martin, T., S. Auer, R. Bassar, A. Niklison. 2007. GEOGRAPHIC VARIATION IN AVIAN INCUBATION PERIODS AND PARENTAL INFLUENCES ON EMBRYONIC TEMPERATURE. Evolution, 61(11): "2558-2569".
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- Wellmann, A., C. Downs. 2009. A behavioural study of sleep patterns in the malachite sunbird, Cape white-eye and fan-tailed widowbird. Animal Behaviour, 77(1): "61-66".
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