Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Brown-headed Apalis (Apalis alticola)


French: Apalis à tête brune German: Braunkopf-Feinsänger Spanish: Apalis cabecipardo

Cisticola alticola


, 1899,

Nyasaland (Malawi) = Isoka, Zambia


See A. cinerea. Race dowsetti is intermediate between nominate and A. cinerea in amount of white in outer tail. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. a. alticola (Shelley, 1899) – NC Angola, S DRCongo, N Zambia, N Malawi and Tanzania. Presence in SW Kenya disputed#R.
  • A. a. dowsetti Prigogine, 1973 – Marungu Mts, in SE DRCongo.
  • Descriptive notes

    12–13 cm; 10–15 g. A nondescript forest apalis with fairly long tail. Nominate race has crown, lores, cheek and ear-coverts dark brown, upperparts dark grey-brown... read more


    Male song a dry, monotonously repeated “krrip” or “krrip-ip”, lower-pitched and slower than most... read more


    Montane forest and secondary growth. Distribution and habitat use often constrained by competition... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mainly insects and other invertebrates, including small beetles (Coleoptera), caterpillars (Lepidoptera) and spiders (Araneae). Occurs... read more


    Breeds Sept–Feb. Probably monogamous; solitary, territorial throughout year; pairs in small adjacent forest patches defend mutually... read more


    Little known; presumably mostly resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not assessed. Locally common. On Nyika Plateau, in Malawi, pairs occupy forest patches as small as 0·5 ha; in larger forest patches, average density is 0·3 pairs/ha.

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2019). Brown-headed Apalis (Apalis alticola). 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).