Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Karoo Prinia (Prinia maculosa)


French: Prinia du Karoo German: Fleckenprinie Spanish: Prinia del Karoo

Motacilla maculosa


, 1783,

Swellendam, Western Cape, South Africa


Often considered conspecific with P. hypoxantha; little evidence of intergradation where the two meet (other than around Mt Currie, in East Griqualand). Occasionally hybridizes with P. flavicans in W South Africa. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. m. psammophila Clancey, 1963 – SW Namibia and Namaqualand coastal plain of South Africa (S to R Olifants).
  • P. m. exultans Clancey, 1982 – inland in extreme S Namibia, South Africa (Great Karoo, S Free State, Eastern Cape) and Lesotho.
  • P. m. maculosa (Boddaert, 1783) – S South Africa (from Western Cape E to Humansdorp).
  • Descriptive notes

    12–13 cm; male 8–11 g, female 7–11 g. A brown prinia with variably streaked and spotted underparts, strongly graduated tail. Male nominate race has lores... read more


    Male sings from prominent perch on low bush, usually with tail cocked, a series of repetitive notes... read more


    Mediterranean-type shrublands (fynbos and renosterveld), coastal thickets, forest edge and karoo... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet small invertebrates, including katydids and small grasshoppers (Orthoptera), termites (Isoptera), ants (Hymenoptera), caterpillars and... read more


    Nesting occurs in Jul–Jan, mainly Aug–Nov, but can breed opportunistically after rains in more arid areas; double-brooding... read more


    Largely resident, but some local movement; ringed birds recovered up to 69 km from ringing site.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to abundant in many habitats. In South Africa, up to 1·5 birds/ha in mountain fynbos in Western Cape; in latter province, density increases in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2019). Karoo Prinia (Prinia maculosa). 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).