Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Whistling Cisticola (Cisticola lateralis)


French: Cisticole siffleuse German: Pfeifzistensänger Spanish: Cistícola silbador

Drymoica lateralis


, 1843,

Cape Palmas, Liberia


Proposed race vincenti (NE Angola and S DRCongo) synonymized with modestus. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. l. lateralis (Fraser, 1843) – Senegal E to Cameroon.
  • C. l. antinorii (Heuglin, 1869) – Central African Republic and N DRCongo E to South Sudan, Uganda and W Kenya.
  • C. l. modestus (Bocage, 1880) – Gabon, Congo, S & E DRCongo, N Angola and extreme NW Zambia.
  • Descriptive notes

    13–16 cm; male 14–21 g, female 12–19 g. A medium-sized, plain-backed cisticola with heavy bill and uniform crown and back; tail graduated. Male nominate... read more


    Male song a series of 7–8 rather musical notes, often accelerating in pace, with distinct... read more


    Tall grass savanna with bushes and trees, open woodland and farmland with patches of thickets; also... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mainly insects and other invertebrates, including termite alates (Isoptera), beetles (Coleoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), bugs (... read more


    Breeds in Apr–Nov N of equator and Sept–Feb S of it. Probably monogamous; solitary, territorial. Male sings from prominent high... read more


    Little known; presumably mostly resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in W of range; scarce and local in S & E. Average density 0·61 birds/ha in Guinea savanna at Lamto, in Ivory Coast. Found to be common in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2019). Whistling Cisticola (Cisticola lateralis). 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).