Family Grasshopper-warblers and Grassbirds (Locustellidae)

Least Concern

Little Rush-warbler (Bradypterus baboecala)


French: Mégalure caqueteuse German: Sumpfbuschsänger Spanish: Zarzalero charlatán

Sylvia baboecala


, 1817,

Knysna district, south-east Western Cape, South Africa


See B. graueri. Until recently considered conspecific with B. centralis, but although evidence points strongly to their being separate species, allocation of subspecies and attribution of diagnostic characters still speculative and unsatisfactory; races B. c. sudanensis and B. c. chadensis may belong with present species. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • B. b. abyssinicus (Blundell & Lovat, 1899) – Ethiopia.
  • B. b. msiri Neave, 1909 – SE DRCongo and N & W Zambia (to bordering SW Tanzania) S to E & SE Angola, extreme NE Namibia (Caprivi Strip) and NW Botswana.
  • B. b. benguellensis Bannerman, 1927 – W Angolan Plateau.
  • B. b. tongensis Roberts, 1931 – SE Kenya, E & S Tanzania, E & S Zambia, Malawi, E Zimbabwe and NW, C & S Mozambique S to NE South Africa (E Northern Province, lowland KwaZulu-Natal) and E Swaziland.
  • B. b. transvaalensis Roberts, 1919 – C & SE Zimbabwe, N & E South Africa (highveld of Northern Province, W KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, E Griqualand), W Swaziland and lowlands of Lesotho.
  • B. b. baboecala (Vieillot, 1817) – S South Africa (Western Cape, Eastern Cape).
  • Descriptive notes

    13–15 cm; 11·2–17 g (nominate), 11·2–15 g (race transvaalensis). A medium-sized warbler with short wings, well-graduated tail of 12... read more


    Song consists of a series of notes on the same pitch, starting slowly, speeding up, and then... read more


    Reeds and swamp vegetation by permanent water. In S parts of range, sedges (Cyperus, ... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small insects; ant eggs. Forages low down in vegetation, often over water; sometimes takes food on ground.


    Egg-laying recorded in Aug–Sept in Ethiopia, and Apr–Nov in DRCongo and E Africa; Sept–Mar in S Africa, but Aug–Jan... read more


    Mainly sedentary. Some local but quite extensive movements in Zimbabwe during winter months, and in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Relative abundance somewhat variable, ranging from locally common to rare. Distribution fragmented in N tropics, e.g. sparsely... read more

    Recommended citation

    Pearson, D. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Little Rush-warbler (Bradypterus baboecala). 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 25 April 2019).