Cisticola natalensis (Croaking cisticola) 

Groottinktinkie [Afrikaans]; Igabhoyi, Ubhoyi-bhoyi [Xhosa]; iBhoyi [Zulu]; Harudeve (generic term for cisticola or prinia) [Kwangali]; Timba (generic name for cisticolas and warblers) [Shona]; Matinti (generic term for cisticola) [Tsonga]; Natalgraszanger [Dutch]; Cisticole striée [French]; Strichelzistensänger [German]; Fuinha do Natal [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 natalensis (Croaking cisticola)  Cisticola natalensis (Croaking cisticola) 

Croaking cisticola, Eastern Cape, South Africa. [photo Johan van Rensburg ©]

Croaking cisticola, St, Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. [photo Johan van Rensburg ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs across much of sub-Saharan Africa, with one population in West Africa from Gambia to Gabon, and another extending from Ethiopia through Tanzania, Zambia and Angola to southern Africa. Here it is locally common in open, moist grassland and seasonally flooded grassy depressions with scattered bushes and trees. It may also occasionally be found in gardens and along forest edges with grass.

Distribution of Croaking 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 mainly eats invertebrates, gleaning prey from the undergrowth and bare soil. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • It builds an oval or ball-shaped framework with a side entrance from living grass, which it then fills in with dry grass. It is typically placed in a large tuft of green grass close to the ground surface. It may build several nests in total, but it only uses one in the end.
  • Egg-laying season is from October-March.
  • The chicks are fed a variety of insects, staying in the nest for about 14-15 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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