Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Pectoral-patch Cisticola (Cisticola brunnescens)


French: Cisticole brune German: Blasskopf-Zistensänger Spanish: Cistícola pectoral

Cisticola brunnescens


, 1862,

Godofelassi, Hamassen, Eritrea


Often considered conspecific with C. cinnamomeus, but the two occur together in Congo, where they occupy different habitats and are vocally quite distinct. Race gabun of C. ayresii might belong with present species; further study required. Six subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. b. lynesi Bates, 1926 – Cameroon Cisticola – Bamenda Highlands in W Cameroon.
  • C. b. mbangensis Chappuis & Érard, 1973 – Adamawa Plateau, in C Cameroon.
  • C. b. wambera Lynes, 1930 – Wambera Plateau, in NW Ethiopia.
  • C. b. brunnescens Heuglin, 1862 – Pectoral-patch Cisticola – N Eritrea, Ethiopia, NW Somalia and extreme N Kenya.
  • C. b. nakuruensis van Someren, 1922 – Kenya and N Tanzania W of Rift Valley.
  • C. b. hindii Sharpe, 1896 – Kenya and N Tanzania E of Rift Valley.
  • Also (race unclear) C, SW & extreme SE Gabon and C Congo.

    Descriptive notes

    9–10 cm; 8–10 g. A small cisticola with short, rounded tail and streaked upperparts. Male nominate race breeding has creamy supercilium, narrow dark brown lores,... read more


    Male song, in aerial display, a hard, dry “dzip” repeated three times per second, often accompanied... read more


    Short-grass savannas, highland meadows, moist tussock grassland, giant lobelia moorland and montane... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mainly small insects, including grasshoppers (Orthoptera) and weevils (Coleoptera). Forages singly or in pairs, on the ground.


    Feb–Apr in Cameroon, Jun–Aug in NE Africa and during rains in E Africa. Probably monogamous; solitary, territorial. Male sings... read more


    Little known; presumably mostly resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common to abundant.

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2019). Pectoral-patch Cisticola (Cisticola brunnescens). 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).