Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Croaking Cisticola (Cisticola natalensis)


French: Cisticole striée German: Strichelzistensänger Spanish: Cistícola de Natal

Drymoica natalensis

A. Smith

, 1843,

Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Races intergrade to some extent, especially nominate and strangei through S Kenya, Tanzania and N Mozambique. Proposed races kapitensis (C Kenya to NE Tanzania) and littoralis (coast from SE Kenya to NE Tanzania) synonymized with strangei; matengorum (S Tanzania to N Mozambique) and vigilax (C Zimbabwe to NE South Africa) with nominate. Eight subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. n. strangei (Fraser, 1843) – Senegal E to most South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, SC Kenya and N Tanzania, S to Congo and Cabinda (N Angola).
  • C. n. tonga Lynes, 1930 – S Sudan and extreme NE South Sudan.
  • C. n. inexpectatus Neumann, 1906 – Eritrea and C Ethiopian highlands.
  • C. n. argenteus Reichenow, 1905 – E South Sudan, S Ethiopia, N Kenya and S Somalia.
  • C. n. huambo Lynes, 1930 – W & C Angola.
  • C. n. katanga Lynes, 1930 – NE Angola, S DRCongo, Zambia (except SW & E), SW Tanzania and N Malawi.
  • C. n. natalensis (A. Smith, 1843) – SC Tanzania, E Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and E South Africa.
  • C. n. holubii (Pelzeln, 1882) – SW Zambia, NE Botswana and extreme W Zimbabwe.
  • Descriptive notes

    13–17 cm; male 16–29 g, female 12–18 g. Large, stocky cisticola with very heavy bill, plain face and medium-long graduated tail. Nominate race breeding has... read more


    Male song rather variable, in most of range a phrase of 2–3 notes, as “k’lonk-ééé”, “ti-plóp... read more


    Tall grassland, savanna and edges of seasonal wetlands with scattered bushes or trees, including... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet insects and small invertebrates, including beetles (Coleoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), mantids (Mantodea), termite alates (... read more


    Nests during rains, Jul–Oct N of equator and Sept–Apr S of it. Probably monogamous; solitary, territorial in breeding season... read more


    Mostly resident; may be seasonal visitor to Botswana, and is a seasonal altitudinal migrant in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common. Average density 0·13 birds/ha in Guinea savanna at Lamto, in Ivory Coast. Territories are on average larger than those of other... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. & Dean, R. (2019). Croaking Cisticola (Cisticola natalensis). 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).