Trilling Cisticola. Taken In the Democratic  Republic of Congo.

Courtesy of Nigel Voaden {UK} CC BY-SA 2.0 generic  License.

Birds of the world-10  Cisiticola species of Africa.

Cisticola species are a genus of small insectivorous birds which belong to the family Cisticolidae. They are placed within the order of birds known as the Passeriformes  {perching birds}. they were formerly classed as 'Old World' warblers in the family Sylviidae. The genus contains forty five species forty three of which occur in Africa,one occurs in Madagascar and one that occurs in Australia.

The genus name derives from Cista-indicating a woven basket {alludes to the nest of the Zitting cisticola, the most wide spread species} + cola {colhere] meaning to in habit. They are also referred to by the common names of Fan-tailed warbler due to their habit of  flicking their tails, or Tailor due again alluding to their nests.

We commence our review of this genus with the red faced cisticola. 


Red faced cisticola . Cisticola erythrops. Taken in South Africa.

Courtesy of Alan Manson CC BY-SA 2.0 generic License

Red faced cisticola---Cisticola erythrops.

The Red-faced cisticola, is species found in Angola,Gambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone  and many other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It is about five and a half inches long {14 cm }. The upper parts of the plumage is a light olive grey,with a rusty tinged  forecrown and a distinct pale eye brow. The face is a light rufous colour. During the summer it is creamy white below with a buff breast. During the winter the breast and throat are a tawny colour. The eyes are brown, the bill a dark horn colour and the legs and feet are pinkish. The song which is likened to 'weet,weet,weet', is a identification indicator.

They inhabit the tall rank vegetation, in or near wetlands and along water bodies such as streams  and rivers. They are generally encountered either alone or in pairs,sometimes in small groups and they tend to be very vocal.  Their diet consists of insects and other invertebrates which are procured from dense undergrowth.

Eggs of the Red faced cisiticola.

Courtesy of Didier Descouens {Museum  Toulouse}  CC BY-SA 4.0 International License.


Nest and eggs of the Red faced cisticola

The nest is well hidden deep in vegetation and the female will incorporate living grasses into the structure. The bulk of the nest is made up of soft material such as felted plant down, often it is cup-shaped but generally tied together with leaves and grasses overhead for camouflage.The female will usually deposit four eggs which are incubated for a period of about two weeks.

There are no current conservation concerns.

Grey-backed cisiticola. Illustration.

Public domain {USA} Illustration by Andrew Smith {1797-1872} Illustration of the Zoology of South Africa. uploaded to Commons via Totodu74

` File:Cisticola subruficapilla 1838.jpg

Grey Backed Cisticola. Cisticola subruticapilla.

This species is found in Angola, Nambia and western South Africa. A bird of five to five and a half inches long {13-14 cm }. It has a dark rufous crown and a reddish head. There is a rufous panel on the folded wing. The bill is straight and short and of a greyish colour.  The eye is a pale brown The feet and legs are pinkish brown.

There is a southern form {occurs in southern Nambia and South Africa]. They have a grey back streaked black and white underparts. The northern form has a brown back streaked black and buff coloured underparts. There are six sub-species.

They are a bird of shrub land,drainage lines with large tufts of Bamboo grass,grassy patches on rocky hills and of estuarine flats.

they forage on insects,termites,beetles caterpillars and small grasshoppers,which they take from low down in vegetation or from the bare ground.

Breeding--The nest is a ball-shaped structure with a side entrance,comprising of dry grasses and shreds of bark, hairy flower stalk, strengthened by cobwebs. the female will deposit 2-5 eggs which may be found between August and December.

There are no current conservation concerns for this species. 

Wailing  Cisticola. Cisticola lais.

Courtesy of Alan Manson CC BY SA 2.0 Generic License. originally appeared on Flickr.

 Cisticola lais -Cedara, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa-8.jpg

Wailing Cicticola.  Cisticola lais

This is a species found from Kenya,west to Angola,and south to  eastern South Africa where they are locally common resident birds. These birds are five to five and a half inches long with a relatively long tail  and a streaked back. the crown is rufous, streaked dark brown and the mantle, back and rump are greyish streaked with brown. The tail is tawny with darker edging there is also a dark sub-terminal band and a pale tip.

The flight feathers are brown with russet edges which result in a russet bar on the closed wings. The under parts are buff n coloured, the eyes brown and the bill is horn coloured,  and the legs and feet are pinkish. 

There are seven sub-species recognized.

They inhabit grassland with bracken and shrubs. They forage low down in the vegetation for insects. They are generally encountered singly or in small family groups. Egg laying has been reported from September through to March with the peak period occurring between December and January.

There are no current conservation concerns.

Short winged or Siffling Cisticola. Taken in Uganda.

Courtesy of Francesco Veronesi {Italy}   CC BY-SA 2.0 License.


Short winged cisticola . Cisticola brachypterus.

This species is often referred to as the Siffling Cisticola, a species found in many countries of Africa such as Angola, Chad, Gabon, Uganda  and Zambia.

It is a somewhat plain Cisticola four to four and a quarter {10-11 cm } long. It has a medium length graduated tail. The head is grey, the throat has a yellowish tinge and the back is grey brown. The eyes are hazel,the legs and feet pinkish.

It tends to forage for food on the ground but also on insects taken from the air which are killed and eaten on the ground.

Breeding---The pair remain together for life. The nest is located on the ground and is composed of figs,straw and leaves. Generally located under a bush or other suitable vegetation to conceal its whereabouts. It is a ball-shaped structure with a side entrance.

The female will deposit between two and seven eggs which are of a blue colour. The incubation period is about fourteen days. The chicks are ready to fledge in a further seventeen days.

There are no current conservation concerns.

Other species of Cisticola.

Singing cisticola, Cisticola cantans. No current conservation concerns.

Whistling cisticola, Cisticola lateralis. No current conservation concerns.

Chattering Cisticola. Cisticola anonymus. No current conservation concerns.

Trilling Cisticola. Cisticola woosnami.  No current conservation concerns.

Bubbling Cisticola. Cisticola bulliens. No current conservation concern.

Chubb's Cisticola. Cisticola chubbi.  No current conservation concerns.

Hunter's Cisticola Cisticola hunteri. No current conservation concerns.

Black-lored Cisticola. Cisticola nigriloris.  No current conservation concerns.

Rock loving or Lazy Cisticola. Cisticola aberans. No current conservation concerns.

Trilling Cisticola. Cisticola woosnami. Taken DR Congo.

Courtesy of Nigel Voaden {UK}  CC BY-SA 2.0 License.


Other species continued.

Boran Cisticola. Cisticola bodessa. No current conservation concerns. 

Ashy Cisticola. Cisticola cinereolus. No current conservation concerns.

Red pate Cisticola Cisticola rifuceps. No current conservation concerns.

Tinkling Cisticola. Cisticola rufilatus. No current conservation concerns.

Brown backed Cisticola, Cisticola discolor. No current conservation concerns.

Tana River Cisticola. Cisticola restrictus. No current conservation concerns. 

Churring Cisticola. Cisticola njombi. No current conservation concerns.

Winding Cisticola. Cisticola galactotes. No current conservation concerns.

Chirping cisticola. Cisticola pipiens. No current conservation concerns.

Carruther's Cisticola. Cisticola caruthersi. No current conservation concerns.

Levaiilant's Cisticola. Cisticola tinniens. No current conservation concerns.

Stout Cisticola. Cisticola robusticus. No current conservation concerns.

Crooking Cisticola. Cisticola natalensis. No current conservation concerns.

Neddicky.  Cisticola fulvicaptia.  No current conservation concerns.

Long-tailed Cisticola. Cisticola angusticauda. No current conservation concerns.

Black faced Cisticola. Cisticola melanrurus.   No current conservation concerns.


Churring Cisticola. Cisticola njombe. Taken in Malawi.

Courtesty of Francesco Veronesi {Italy }  CC BY -SA 2.0 License.


The species continued.

Rufous Cisticola. Cisticola rufus.  No current conservation concerns.

Foxy Cisticola. Cisticola troglodytes.  No current conservation concerns.

Tiny Cisticola. Cisticola nana.   No current conservation concerns.

Zitting Cisticola. Cisticola juncidius. No current conservation concerns.

Madagascan Cisticola. Cisticola cherina   No current conservation concerns.

Desert Cisticola. Cisticola aridulus. No current conservation concerns.

Cloud Cisticola. Cisticola textrix.  No current conservation concerns.

Black backed cisticola . Cisticola eximius.  No current conservation concerns.

Dambo Cisticola. Cisticola dambo.  No current conservation concerns.

Pectoral Cisticola. Cisticola brunnescens.  No current conservation concerns.

Pale crowned Cisticola. Cisticola cinnamomeus.  No current conservation concerns.

Wing snapping Cisticola. Cisticola ayresii.  No current conservation concerns.

Golden headed Cisticola. Cisticola exillis.  No current conservation concerns.

                             Cisticolas under threat.

Aberdan Cisticola. Cisticola aberdore, Is endemic to Kenya,and is now classed as endangered due to habitat loss.

Scortra Cisticola. Cisticola haesitatus. Endemic to Yemen,classed as Neat Threatened, due to Habitat loss.



Singing Cisticola. Courtesy of Paul Hindess Standard YouTube License.


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