Cisticola tinniens (Levaillant's cisticola) 

Vleitinktinkie [Afrikaans]; Imvila, Umvila [Xhosa]; Motintinyane (generic term for cisticolas and prinias) [South Sotho]; Timba (generic name for cisticolas and warblers) [Shona]; Matinti (generic term for cisticola) [Tsonga]; Vallei-graszanger [Dutch]; Cisticole à sonnette [French]; Uferzistensänger [German]; Fuinha-zunidora [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 tinniens (Levaillant's cisticola)  Cisticola tinniens (Levaillant's cisticola) 

Levaillant's cisticola. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ©]

Levaillant's cisticola, Bot River, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

It has populations scattered across Africa south of the Sahel, from Kenya to Zambia, Angola and southern Africa. Here it is locally common in marshy vegetation along watercourses, edges of reedbeds, moist grassland and croplands in the Karoo.

Distribution of Levaillant's 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 mainly eats small insects, doing most of its foraging low down in the undergrowth. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest is an oval or ball shape with a side entrance, built of dry grass secured with spider web and typically placed near the ground or water, often in a grass tuft or bush overhanging a stream. A thick lining of plant down is added to the interior by the female during incubation, who may also create a kind of "doormat" of soft material below the entrance.
  • Egg-laying season is from September-May, peaking from November-March.
  • It lays 2-5 eggs, which are incubated for about 11-14 days.
  • Not much is known about the chick's development, other than that they leave the nest after 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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