Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Short-winged Cisticola (Cisticola brachypterus)


French: Cisticole à ailes courtes German: Kurzflügel-Zistensänger Spanish: Cistícola alicorto
Other common names: Siffling Cisticola

Drymoeca brachyptera


, 1870,

River Volta, Ghana


May be closely allied to species group that includes C. rufus and C. troglodytes, but range overlaps with both these species. Proposed race tenebricosus (S Mozambique) included in isabellinus. Nine subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. b. brachypterus (Sharpe, 1870) – Senegal E to W & N South Sudan, S to N Angola (Cabinda) and N DRCongo.
  • C. b. hypoxanthus Hartlaub, 1881 – NE DRCongo, S South Sudan and N Uganda.
  • C. b. zedlitzi Reichenow, 1909 – E South Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopian highlands.
  • C. b. katonae Madarász, 1904 – C Kenya and N Tanzania.
  • C. b. kericho Lynes, 1930 – SW Kenya.
  • C. b. reichenowi Mearns, 1911 – S Somalia, coastal Kenya and NE Tanzania.
  • C. b. ankole Lynes, 1930 – E DRCongo and S Uganda S to NW Tanzania.
  • C. b. isabellinus Reichenow, 1907 – C Tanzania and S & E Zambia S to Mozambique.
  • C. b. loanda Lynes, 1930 – Angola, S DRCongo and N Zambia.
  • Descriptive notes

    10–11 cm; male 6–11 g, female 6–10 g. A small, nondescript cisticola with medium-length graduated tail; rather plain above in breeding plumage, lightly... read more


    Male song, seldom given outside breeding season, rather varied, consisting of a series of high-... read more


    Clearings in broadleaf and other savanna woodlands, especially where there are dead trees, thickets... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mainly small insects, including caterpillars (Lepidoptera), termites (Isoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), beetles (Coleoptera) and... read more


    Jul–Dec N of equator and Oct–Apr in S, mainly during and immediately after rainy season. Probably monogamous; solitary,... read more


    Mostly resident. Possibly a local migrant in Nigeria; at least some local movement in S Malawi,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common. Average density 0·74 birds/ha in Guinea savanna at Lamto, in Ivory Coast.

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. & Dean, R. (2019). Short-winged Cisticola (Cisticola brachypterus). 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 23 August 2019).