Bradypterus sylvaticus (Knysna warbler) 

Knysnaruigtesanger [Afrikaans]; Kaapse struikzanger [Dutch]; Bouscarle de Knysna [French]; Sundevalls buschsänger [German]; Felosa de Knysna [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: Sylviidae > Genus: Bradypterus

Bradypterus sylvaticus (Knysna warbler) 

Knysna warbler, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to South Africa, only occurring patchily along the southern coast from Cape Town to Mbumbazi Nature Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal. It generally prefers densely tangled undergrowth, often at the edge of temperate forest or thickets of alien trees such as Cherry-pie (Lantana camara) and brambles (Rubus).

Distribution of Knysna warbler 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 a variety of invertebrates, doing most of its foraging on the ground, upturning leaves and debris in search of prey. It could be mistaken for a mouse, is it scurries across the ground with its body low down. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The female solely builds the nest (see image below), which is a thick-walled cup built of dry grass and narrow-bladed leaves, constructed on a platform of dead and dying leaves and lined with finer plant material.
Bradypterus sylvaticus (Knysna warbler) 

Knysna warbler at nest with chicks. [photo Peter Steyn ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from September-November.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 16-19 days. The female goes on regular foraging trips, while the male sits on a nearby perch singing.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents, who if threatened by predators try to distract them away from their young.


Vulnerable, as its population in the Western Cape has halved since the 1980s. Today its total population is thought to be in the 10 000s, but even this estimate may be optimistic. It is probably caused by the burning of firebreaks at the edges of forests, coupled with reduced frequency of bushfires, leading to forest expansion. When a forest becomes shaded by to many trees, it moves out as it prefers dense bush, which cannot grow in such low light conditions. In recent years it has resorted to living in woodlands invaded by alien plants, and most have left from indigenous woodland.


  • 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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