Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Neddicky (Cisticola fulvicapilla)


French: Cisticole à couronne rousse German: Braunkopf-Zistensänger Spanish: Cistícola coronirrufo
Other common names: Piping Cisticola

Sylvia fulvicapilla


, 1817,

Graaff-Reinet, Eastern Cape, South Africa


Often treated as conspecific with C. angusticauda, based on evidence of hybrids and reported lack of ecological and behavioural separation in N & C Zambia#R; but the two differ in wing formula, while they occur in different habitats and have subtly different songs in area of overlap in W Zambia; molecular data still lacking. Both may be closely allied to C. rufus and C. troglodytes. Geographical variation largely clinal, but S populations are slate-grey below, whereas those further N are creamy white or buffy. Nine subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. f. dispar Sousa, 1887 – SE Gabon, S Congo, extreme SW DRCongo, C Angola and NW Zambia.
  • C. f. muelleri Alexander, 1899 – C & E Zambia, Malawi, S Tanzania, Mozambique (S to R Save) and NE Zimbabwe.
  • C. f. hallae Benson, 1955 – S Angola, SW Zambia, NE Namibia, N Botswana and W Zimbabwe.
  • C. f. dexter Clancey, 1971 – C Zimbabwe, SE Botswana and savanna areas of NE South Africa.
  • C. f. ruficapilla (A. Smith, 1842) – grassland areas on South African Plateau.
  • C. f. lebombo Roberts, 1936 – S Mozambique, E South African lowveld and E Swaziland.
  • C. f. fulvicapilla (Vieillot, 1817) – E South Africa (interior of KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape) and Lesotho.
  • C. f. dumicola Clancey, 1983 – E & C coast of South Africa from N KwaZulu-Natal S to George.
  • C. f. silberbauer (Roberts, 1919) – winter-rainfall area of SW South Africa (E to George).
  • Descriptive notes

    11 cm; male 6–12 g, female 7–10 g. A fairly small cisticola with rufous crown, plain back and medium-long graduated tail. Nominate race breeding has lores and... read more


    Male song, from elevated perch, a frog-like, penetrating but rather ventriloqual “peeep peeep peeep... read more


    Wide range of habitats; understorey of broadleaf woodland and acacia (Acacia) savanna,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mainly insects and other invertebrates, including beetles and their larvae (Coleoptera), termites (Isoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera... read more


    Mainly Sept–Feb (rarely Jul–Apr); mode 1–3 months earlier in winter-rainfall area of SW South Africa; protracted laying... read more


    Mostly resident; a non-breeding visitor locally in S Malawi. Some limited altitudinal movement... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common. In South Africa, density of up to 1 bird/ha in old fynbos in Western Cape, and 0·2 pairs/ha in acacia woodland and 0·1 pairs/ha in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2019). Neddicky (Cisticola fulvicapilla). 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).