Cisticola juncidis (Zitting cisticola, Fan-tailed cisticola) 

Landeryklopkloppie [Afrikaans]; Unonzwi [Xhosa]; uNcede [Zulu]; Motintinyane (generic term for cisticolas and prinias) [South Sotho]; Tangtang [North Sotho]; Kadhi-idhi-i, Timba (generic names for cisticola) [Shona]; Matinti (generic term for cisticola) [Tsonga]; Graszanger [Dutch]; Cisticole des joncs [French]; Zistensänger [German]; Fuinha-dos-juncos [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Cisticolidae > Genus: Cisticola

Cisticola juncidis (Zitting cisticola, Fan-tailed cisticola) Cisticola juncidis (Zitting cisticola, Fan-tailed cisticola) 

Zitting cisticola. [photo Neil Gray ©]

Zitting cisticola, Strandfontein Sewage Works, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

It is extremely widespread, occurring from southern Eurasia to northern Australia and sub-Saharan Africa, all the way down to southern Africa. Here it is common to very common in both open and seasonally flooded grassland, grassy wetlands with little or no drainage and a variety of man-made habitats, including croplands, golf courses and gardens.

Distribution of Zitting cisticola in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  


It eats insects (mostly grasshoppers), doing most of its foraging low down, gleaning prey from the bases of grass tufts and the bare soil. The following food items have been recorded in its diet in Europe:


  • The nest is a unique pear shape with a side entrance, built of spider web and plant down woven into a framework of the tuft of green grass in which it is typically placed. The male builds an outer framework and, if approved by the female, continues to finish it; the whole process usually takes about 12-17 days. If the female does not like the look of it, he often destroys it and recycles the material to build another one. Once the eggs are laid, the female adds a lining to the interior during incubation.
  • Egg-laying season is from August-April, peaking from November-February.
  • It lays 2-5 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 12-15 days.
  • The chicks are mainly fed by the female, leaving the nest after about 11-15 days.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 



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