Cisticola lais (Wailing cisticola) 

Huiltinktinkie [Afrikaans]; Iqobo , Igqobo [Xhosa]; uQoyi [Zulu]; Kadhi-idhi-i, Timba (generic names for cisticola) [Shona]; Ngonhavarimi [Tsonga]; jammergraszanger [Dutch]; Cisticole plaintive [French]; Trauerzistensänger [German]; Fuinha-chorona [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 lais (Wailing cisticola) 

Wailing cisticola, Cedara Farm, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.[photo Alan Manson ©]

Wailing cisticola, Golden Gate national park. South Africa. [photo Mauritz Peller ©]


For information about this species, see

Distribution and habitat

Although it has an isolated population in Angola, the bulk of its distribution lies from southern Tanzania through Zambia, Malawi and northern Mozambique to southern Africa. Here it occurs in Zimbabwe's eastern highlands and South Africa, preferring montane grassland with bracken (Pteridium) and shrubland or tall grassland on rocky hills. 

Distribution of Wailing 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.  

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Brown-backed honeyguide.


It ears a variety of invertebrates, doing most of its foraging in dense undergrowth with grass and shrubs. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest is ball-shaped with a side entrance, built of dry grass secured with spider web and lined with plant down. It is typically placed in the middle of a shrub or more often in a grass tuft, the leaves of which are sometimes enmeshed in the nest.
  • Egg-laying season is from September-March, peaking from December-January.
  • It lays 2-4 white to pale greenish blue eggs.


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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