Family Old World Warblers and Parrotbills (Sylviidae)

Least Concern

African Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus baeticatus)

Following the taxonomy applied to HBW Alive, derived from the HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, this taxon is now lumped within Common Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus).


French: Rousserolle africaine German: Gartenrohrsänger Spanish: Carricero Africano
Other common names: South African Reed-warbler (baeticatus), Rufescent African Reed-warbler, Cinnamon African Reed-warbler, Tropical African Reed-warbler, African Marsh Warbler (other races)

Sylvia baeticata


, 1817,

Knysna district, south-east Western Cape, South Africa


Belongs to a probably monophyletic group of small plain-coloured species that also includes A. scirpaceus, A. dumetorum and A. palustris, along with the closely related A. agricola superspecies (comprising also A. tangorum and A. concinens). Has been considered conspecific with A. scirpaceus, but generally regarded as distinct because of different migratory behaviour and associated wing structure; DNA studies suggest that race avicenniae should perhaps be placed with that species. Proposed race fraterculus (from S Mozambique) synonymized with cinnamomeus. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. b. guiersi Colston & Morel, 1984 – N Senegal.
  • A. b. cinnamomeus Reichenow, 1908 – S Senegal, S Mali, E Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Chad, and W & S Sudan E to W & C Ethiopia and S Somalia, and S to N & SE DRCongo, E Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.
  • A. b. avicenniae Ash et al., 1989 – mangroves of coastal Sudan, Eritrea, W Arabia and N Somalia.
  • A. b. hallae C. M. N. White, 1960 – SW Angola E to SW Zambia, S to Namibia, W & SW Botswana and W South Africa.
  • A. b. suahelicus Grote, 1926 – coastal Tanzania S (mainly in mangroves) to E Mozambique and NE South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal).
  • A. b. baeticatus (Vieillot, 1817) – N Botswana and Zimbabwe S to S & SE South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    12–13 cm; 8·8–12 g (mean 10·3 g). A small unstreaked reed-warbler with short, round-tipped wing. Nominate race has indistinct whitish supercilium,... read more


    Song, usually from concealed perch, a rhythmic series of repeated grating and squeaky notes, such... read more


    Breeds mainly in marshy or moist habitat, such as reeds (Phragmites), reedmace (Typha... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insectivorous. Forages mainly at medium height or low down among reeds, sedges and papyrus, or within bushes, hedges, dry herbaceous growth... read more


    Breeds mainly during rains, Jun–Jul in Senegal, Sept–Oct in W Sudan, Jan in CE Africa, Feb in Zambia, Sept–Jan in Namibia... read more


    Some populations are chiefly migratory. Most South African breeders move N in May, returning in Aug... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not assessed. Locally common; numbers generally small in N part of breeding range, while widespread and more numerous in S Africa. In Namibia, breeds in “islands... read more

    Recommended citation

    Dyrcz, A. (2017). African Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus baeticatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 17 August 2017).