Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Tawny-flanked Prinia (Prinia subflava)


French: Prinia modeste German: Rahmbrustprinie Spanish: Prinia modesta

Motacilla subflava

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

Senegal (neotype from 35 km south of Linguere)


Sometimes treated as conspecific with P. inornata (which see). Races vary clinally. Ten subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. s. subflava (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – S Sahel from S Mauritania and Senegal E to C Ethiopia and N Uganda.
  • P. s. pallescens Madarász, 1914 – N Sahel from Mali E to Sudan, W Ethiopia and NW Eritrea.
  • P. s. melanorhyncha (Jardine & Fraser, 1852) – savannas from Sierra Leone E to SW Nigeria, and Cameroon E to S Uganda and W Kenya.
  • P. s. tenella (Cabanis, 1868) – #Rcoastal plain of S Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania.
  • P. s. graueri E. J. O. Hartert, 1920 – Rwanda, and E & S DRCongo S to Angolan highlands.
  • P. s. kasokae C. M. N. White, 1946 – E Angola and W Zambia.
  • P. s. affinis (A. Smith, 1843) – SE DRCongo, SW Tanzania, C Zambia, Zimbabwe, E Botswana, W Mozambique and NE South Africa (S to Lebombo Mts, in NE KwaZulu-Natal).
  • P. s. bechuanae Macdonald, 1941 – SW Angola, N Namibia, W Botswana and extreme SW Zambia and NW Zimbabwe.
  • P. s. mutatrix Meise, 1936 – S Tanzania, Malawi, E Zambia, N & C Mozambique and E Zimbabwe.
  • P. s. pondoensis Roberts, 1922 – S Mozambique, E Swaziland and E coastal plain of South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    11–12 cm; 7–12 g. Brownish unstreaked prinia with long and strongly graduated tail. Male nominate race breeding has broad creamy supercilium, fading into greyish... read more


    Male sings from prominent perch, usually with tail cocked, a loud series of notes as “przzt... read more


    Rank grass, tall shrubs and bushes along edges of streams and swamps, clearings in woodland, and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mainly insects and other invertebrates, including termite alates (Isoptera), mayflies (Ephemeroptera), beetles and their larvae (... read more


    Nesting mainly in rains, May–Nov N of equator and Jul–Apr in S; some pairs raise two broods in a season (breed in both long and... read more


    Mostly resident, but some local movements. May be a partial migrant in W Africa (Nigeria), moving... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common. Average density 0·23 birds/ha in Guinea savanna at Lamto, in Ivory Coast; in riverine forest in Swaziland highly variable, 0... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. & Dean, R. (2019). Tawny-flanked Prinia (Prinia subflava). 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).