Family Reed-warblers (Acrocephalidae)

Least Concern

Greater Swamp-warbler (Acrocephalus rufescens)


French: Rousserolle des cannes German: Papyrusrohrsänger Spanish: Carricero rufo

Bradypterus rufescens

Sharpe and Bouvier

, 1876,

Landana, Cabinda, Angola


See A. gracilirostris. Birds from NW & SW Uganda, described as races niloticus and foxi, respectively, considered indistinguishable from ansorgei. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. r. senegalensis Colston & Morel, 1985 – Senegal and Gambia.
  • A. r. rufescens (Sharpe & Bouvier, 1876) – Ghana, S Togo, S Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Bioko, N Central African Republic and NW DRCongo; possibly SW Mali#R.
  • A. r. chadensis (Alexander, 1907) – L Chad environs.
  • A. r. ansorgei (E. J. O. Hartert, 1906) – NW Angola, and S Sudan S to Uganda, Rwanda and adjacent E DRCongo, W Kenya, Zambia, NE Namibia (part of Caprivi Strip), extreme N Botswana and W Zimbabwe.
  • Descriptive notes

    16–18 cm; male average 23·9 g, female average 21·6 g. A rather large, dull-looking reed-warbler. Nominate race has pale lores, poorly defined greyish supercilium; dark... read more


    Song loud and throaty, of varied phrases 1–2 seconds long, each consisting of 3–5... read more


    Papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) swamps, reedbeds, reedmace (Typha) stands, wet elephant... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects; also small frogs. Observed to feed nestlings with beetle larvae (Coleoptera), larvae of noctuid moths (Lepidoptera), also... read more


    Laying May–Jul in Senegal, Apr–Oct in Nigeria, Mar–Apr, Jul and Oct–Dec in Kenya, Oct–Feb in Zambia, Feb in... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Rather scarce to locally common. Has large range but very patchy distribution. Density of c. 100 pairs/9 ha of papyrus swamp in W Zimbabwe.

    Recommended citation

    Dyrcz, A. (2019). Greater Swamp-warbler (Acrocephalus rufescens). 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 19 May 2019).