Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Black-backed Cisticola (Cisticola eximius)


French: Cisticole à dos noir German: Schwarzrücken-Zistensänger Spanish: Cistícola dorsinegro
Other common names: Black-necked Cisticola

Drymœca eximia


, 1869,

Upper Gazelle River, Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan


Closely allied to C. textrix and C. dambo. Birds in Congo, having golden-yellow crown and rump and different call, perhaps represent an undescribed race. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. e. occidens Lynes, 1930 – Senegal E patchily to Nigeria and N Cameroon.
  • C. e. winneba Lynes, 1931 – coastal Ghana.
  • C. e. eximius (Heuglin, 1869) – locally in Congo, S Chad, N Central African Republic, NE DRCongo, South Sudan, NW Uganda (Murchinson Falls#R) and extreme SW Kenya (Masai Mara). Possibly extinct in Eritrea (one old record from Asmara) and NW Ethiopia (old records from Gojam)#R.
  • Descriptive notes

    10 cm; 11–13 g. A small, richly coloured cisticola with short, rounded tail and streaked upperparts. Male nominate race breeding has crown, face and neck reddish-brown... read more


    Male song, usually in aerial display, a series of thin “tsree” or “dzuaah” notes, at rate of 2... read more


    Short and medium-tall grassland, both in dry areas and in areas subject to seasonal flooding, where... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mainly small insects, including bugs (Hemiptera) and ants (Hymenoptera). Feeds on the ground; often runs away when disturbed.


    Nesting May–Nov, during rains. Probably monogamous; solitary, territorial. Male sings from tall grass stalk or in aerial display, 50... read more


    Little known; presumably mostly resident, but subject to local movements to exploit suitable... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Uncommon in much of W Africa, becoming locally common in PRCongo, Uganda and N Ethiopia. “Dozens” arrived in a 1-ha dambo in PRCongo after a fire.

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2019). Black-backed Cisticola (Cisticola eximius). 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 September 2019).