Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Tinkling Cisticola (Cisticola rufilatus)


French: Cisticole grise German: Rotschwanz-Zistensänger Spanish: Cistícola gris

Drymoica rufilata


, 1870,

Elephant Vlei, Damaraland, Namibia


Nominate race and ansorgei intergrade in upper valley of R Zambezi#R. Proposed race venustulus (NC Malawi) included in ansorgei. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. r. ansorgei Neumann, 1906 – SE Gabon, S Congo, C Angola, S DRCongo, N Zambia and Malawi.
  • C. r. rufilatus (Hartlaub, 1870) – SE Angola, SW Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, W Zimbabwe and N South Africa.
  • C. r. vicinior Clancey, 1973 – C Zimbabwe Plateau.
  • Descriptive notes

    12–13 cm; male 11–14 g, female 10–12 g. A medium-sized, streak-backed cisticola with fairly long graduated tail and prominent pale supercilium. Male... read more


    Male song a series of 5–12 regularly spaced, high notes, “tweee tweee tweee tweee tweee”,... read more


    Semi-arid savannas and edges of broadleaf woodland, mainly on Kalahari sands; also scrubby habitats... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet insects, including bugs (Hemiptera). Occurs singly, in pairs or in family parties. Forages by gleaning vegetation and on ground.


    Breeds Oct–Mar. Probably monogamous; solitary, territorial in breeding season and possibly throughout year. Male advertises territory... read more


    Largely resident; may move locally in response to habitat changes.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally fairly common. Recorded densities of 0·4–0·6 pairs/ha in Zimbabwe, 0·6 birds/ha in C Botswana and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. & Dean, R. (2019). Tinkling Cisticola (Cisticola rufilatus). 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).