Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Singing Cisticola (Cisticola cantans)


French: Cisticole chanteuse German: Rostflügel-Zistensänger Spanish: Cistícola cantor

Drymoeca cantans


, 1869,

Gondar, Ethiopia


Seven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. swanzii (Sharpe, 1870) – Senegal E to S Nigeria.
  • C. c. concolor (Heuglin, 1869) – N Nigeria E to SW Sudan and South Sudan.
  • C. c. adamauae Reichenow, 1910 – Cameroon and SW DRCongo.
  • C. c. belli Ogilvie-Grant, 1908 – Central African Republic, N DRCongo, Uganda and NW Tanzania.
  • C. c. cantans (Heuglin, 1869) – highlands of Ethiopia and Eritrea.
  • C. c. pictipennis Madarász, 1904 – Kenya and N Tanzania.
  • C. c. muenzneri Reichenow, 1916 – C Tanzania, E Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
  • Descriptive notes

    12–14 cm; male 15–17 g, female 11–13 g. A medium-sized, plain-backed cisticola, tail graduated. Nominate race breeding has short whitish stripe from nares... read more


    Male song variable, but with characteristic musical, ringing notes, “ju-hee”, “whee-choo”, “o-ki-... read more


    Rank undergrowth, bracken (Pteridium) and briar (Smilax) with scattered trees and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet small invertebrates, including weevils and other beetles (Coleoptera), moths and caterpillars and occasional butterflies (Lepidoptera... read more


    Nesting mainly Apr–Oct N of equator and Sept–Apr S of equator, with strong peak in Dec–Jan in SC Africa. Probably... read more


    Little known; presumably mostly resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common to abundant.

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. & Dean, R. (2019). Singing Cisticola (Cisticola cantans). 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 26 August 2019).