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Levaillant's Cisticola - BirdForum Opus

Photo by CollinBax
Cape Town, South Africa, April 2009

Alternative name: Tinkling Cisticola (beware of confusion with Cisticola rufilatus

Cisticola tinniens


Length 12-15 cm

  • Grey upperparts heavily streaked with black
  • Rufous panel in the folded wing
  • Buffish-white supercilium, face and underparts
  • Red cap
  • Russet brown tail
  • Short straight blackish-brown bill with a pinkish base
  • Pink brown feet and legs
  • Light brown eye

Non-breeding adults are browner-backed
Juvenile birds have yellower underparts.

Photo by Mybs
Near Stellenbosch, South Africa, September 2005


Western Africa: Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola
Eastern Africa: Kenya, Burundi, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi
Southern Africa: Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, eSwatini



Cisticola tinniens has five subspecies[1]:

  • C. t. perpullus
  • C. t. oreophilus
  • Highlands of western and central Kenya
  • C. t. shiwae
  • C. t. dyleffi
  • Mountains north-west of Lake Tanganyika
  • C. t. tinniens

Hockey et al.[2] recognise a sixth subspecies, C. t. brookei, restricted to south-western South Africa.


Reedbeds, sedges, rank grass, and similar wet habitats usually near rivers or dams.



The nest is ball-shaped, formed from dry grass, cobwebs and matted plant down, with a side entrance. It is placed in grass or weeds, in or over water. The breeding season varies accross climatic zones; peak breeding times are generally in the rainy season.


The diet includes insects.


  1. Clements, JF. 2010. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2010. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/Clements%206.5.xls/view
  2. Hockey, PAR, WRJ Dean, and PG Ryan, eds. 2005. Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. 7th ed. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN 978-0620340533
  3. Wikipedia

Recommended Citation

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