Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Rufous-eared Warbler (Malcorus pectoralis)


French: Cisticole à joues rousses German: Rotohrsänger Spanish: Prinia carirrufa

Malcorus pectoralis

A. Smith

, 1829,

Bitterfontein, Northern Cape, South Africa


Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. p. etoshae (Winterbottom, 1965) – N & C Namibia.
  • M. p. ocularius (A. Smith, 1843) – S Namibia, S Botswana and N South Africa (S to R Orange).
  • M. p. pectoralis A. Smith, 1829 – S South Africa (S of R Orange and SW Free State).
  • Descriptive notes

    14–16 cm; male 10–12 g, female 9–11 g. Fairly small, prinia-like warbler with long, slender, graduated tail of only ten feathers; tail usually held cocked... read more


    Male song, usually from low bush or fence wire, a fairly high-pitched, buzzy “tzee tzee tzee... read more


    Arid and semi-arid scrub, usually where bushes widely spaced; also arid grassland provided that... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly insects and other invertebrates; also some fruit. Stomach contents include caterpillars (Lepidoptera), weevils and other beetles (... read more


    Breeds after rains, mainly in summer throughout most of range, but Jul–Sept in winter-rainfall areas. Probably monogamous, may... read more


    Mostly resident, but may move locally in response to rain; occasionally wanders S of normal range... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common. Occurs at densities of up to 0·1 birds/ha in Karoo shrubland. Populations in S Karoo decreased considerably during drought years in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2020). Rufous-eared Warbler (Malcorus pectoralis). 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 27 January 2020).