Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Cloud Cisticola (Cisticola textrix)


French: Cisticole pinc-pinc German: Pinkpink-Zistensänger Spanish: Cistícola pinc-pinc
Other common names: Tink-tink Cisticola

Sylvia textrix


, 1817,

Cape Province, South Africa


Closely allied to C. eximius and C. dambo. Nominate distinctive, differing from other taxa by its bold-streaked pipit-like breast markings vs plain or weakly streaked breast (3); streakier crown (1); greyish vs warm pale rufous edges to streaking on upperparts shading to pale tawny-tan vs more rufous rump and uppertail-coverts (1); recordings reveal its song follows the pattern of one low note, two high notes and 2–5 ticking notes, whereas races major and marleyi follow slightly different patterns such as 0 + 3 + 3–6 and 3 + 2 + 4–5, but to date none the same as nominate; however, known variation suggests a taxonomic revision based on voice may be unreliable#R. Five subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. t. bulubulu Lynes, 1931 – C Angola.
  • C. t. anselli C. M. N. White, 1960 – E Angola and adjacent extreme W Zambia.
  • C. t. major (Roberts, 1913) – Cloud Cisticola – plateau of E South Africa and adjacent SE Botswana#R.
  • C. t. marleyi (Roberts, 1932) – S Mozambique and E South Africa (NE KwaZulu-Natal S to St Lucia).
  • C. t. textrix (Vieillot, 1817) – Cape Cisticola – SW South Africa (E to Port Elizabeth).
  • Descriptive notes

    9–10 cm; male 11–12 g, female 8–10 g. A small cisticola with very short, rounded tail and streaked upperparts. Nominate race breeding has plain creamy face... read more


    Male song, in aerial display, a series of 3–6 high-pitched whistles followed by dry clicks, “... read more


    Short grassland with some bare ground between tufts, including short grass in estuarine marshes,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mainly insects and other invertebrates, chiefly small beetles (Coleoptera), with smaller numbers of flies (Diptera), ants (Hymenoptera... read more


    Nesting Oct–Mar in summer-rainfall area and Aug–Nov in winter-rainfall area of SW South Africa. Probably monogamous; solitary,... read more


    Little known; presumably mostly resident. Reported as irrupting to W, into semi-arid areas of NE... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common. In South Africa, up to 1 male/ha in Western Cape, where it has adapted to agricultural landscapes. Has disappeared locally around... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. & Dean, R. (2020). Cloud Cisticola (Cisticola textrix). 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 27 January 2020).