Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Rufous-winged Cisticola (Cisticola galactotes)


French: Cisticole roussâtre German: Uferzistensänger Spanish: Cistícola alirrojo

Malurus galactotes


, 1821,

probably near Durban, South Africa


Often treated as conspecific with C. marginatus, C. lugubris, C. haematocephalus and C. luapula, but separated on basis of vocal and plumage differences; further research, using genetic markers, is required. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. g. isodactylus W. K. H. Peters, 1868 – S Malawi, Mozambique and extreme SE Zimbabwe.
  • C. g. galactotes (Temminck, 1821) – S Mozambique and E coast of South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    12–14 cm; male 13–16 g, female 12–15 g. A medium-sized cisticola with boldly striped back, brightly patterned plumage and fairly long graduated tail.... read more


    Typical song a slightly buzzy “tzeet” or “trrt trrrt”, repeated... read more


    Reedbeds, rushes and rank growth along edges of perennial wetlands, including estuaries, and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet insects and small invertebrates, including grasshoppers and crickets (Orthoptera), small beetles (Coleoptera), caterpillars (... read more


    Mainly Sept–Apr, but scattered records of breeding in winter. Probably monoga­mous; solitary, territorial. Male sings from... read more


    Largely resident, but disappears from pans that dry up in winter in SE Zimbabwe.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common.

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2019). Rufous-winged Cisticola (Cisticola galactotes). 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).