Cisticola rufilatus (Tinkling cisticola) 

[= Cisticola rufilata

Rooitinktinkie [Afrikaans]; Harudeve (generic term for cisticola or prinia) [Kwangali]; Roodstaart-graszanger [Dutch]; Cisticole grise [French]; Rotschwanz-zistensänger [German]; Fuinha-rabirruiva [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 rufilatus (Tinkling cisticola)   

Tinkling cisticola, Namibia. [photo Benji Schwartz ©]


Distribution and habitat

Occurs from southern DRC and Angola to Zambia, Malawi and southern Africa. Here it is locally fairly common, preferring savanna,  open grassland with scattered trees and bushes and edges of broad-leaved woodland with Miombo (Brachystegia), Zambezi teak (Baikiaea plurijuga) and Terminalia (Terminalia). It occasionally occupies young, regenerating woodland around cultivated areas.

Distribution of Tinkling 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.


Little is known about its foraging habits, other than that it eats insects.


  • The nest (see image below) is an oval or ball shape built of dry grass and occasionally rootlets, reinforced with spider web and lined with plant down. It is typically placed near ground level in a grass tuft, herb or shrub.
Cisticola rufilatus (Tinkling cisticola)  

Tinkling cisticola at its nest, Sericea farm, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from October-March.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents, becoming fully independent at least a month after leaving the nest.


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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