Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Winding Cisticola (Cisticola marginatus)


French: Cisticole du Nil German: Heuglinzistensänger Spanish: Cistícola del Nilo

Drymoeca marginata


, 1869,

upper White Nile, 7–9° N, Sudan


See C. galactotes. Relationship with C. luapula where ranges abut in C Africa requires further investigation. Races intergrade to some extent; proposed race griseus (Gabon and N Angola) synonymized with amphilectus, and race nyansae sometimes also lumped herein. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. m. amphilectus Reichenow, 1875 – S Mauritania and Senegal E to Ghana, S Nigeria, Cameroon and W Congo Basin (S to Cabinda, in N Angola).
  • C. m. zalingei Lynes, 1930 – N Nigeria (possibly also Mali and Niger) E to W Sudan.
  • C. m. marginatus (Heuglin, 1869) – S Sudan (White Nile Valley S from Khartoum), South Sudan, extreme W Ethiopia#R and N Uganda.
  • C. m. nyansae Neumann, 1905 – C & E DRCongo, Uganda and Kenya.
  • C. m. suahelicus Neumann, 1905 – Tanzania, SE DRCongo and extreme NE Zambia.
  • Descriptive notes

    12–14 cm; male 12–19 g, female 10–18 g. A medium-sized cisticola with striped back, brightly patterned plumage and fairly long tail. Nominate race breeding... read more


    Male song a dry, insect-like trill, “krrrrrrrrrrrrrr”, often rising slightly in pitch... read more


    Tall grasses, sedges and other rank growth along edges of marshes and reedbeds; also rice paddies... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mainly insects and other small invertebrates, including caterpillars (Lepidoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), mantids (Mantodea),... read more


    Mainly during rains, Jun–Dec N of equator and Sept–Feb S of it, but some breeding in all months; some pairs double-brooded in W... read more


    Presumably mostly resident; may move locally to breed in seasonal wetlands, retiring to reedbeds... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not assessed. Locally common. Little affected by human activities around villages in Ugandan savannas. Moves out of areas that are burnt, but recolonizes once vegetation has... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2019). Winding Cisticola (Cisticola marginatus). 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 19 September 2019).