Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Wing-snapping Cisticola (Cisticola ayresii)


French: Cisticole gratte-nuage German: Zwergzistensänger Spanish: Cistícola de Ayres

Cisticola ayresii


, 1863,

Natal, South Africa


Taxonomic status of race gabun subject to some confusion; recent observations of singing birds indicate that it may instead be a form of C. brunnescens; further study required. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. a. gabun Lynes, 1931 – Gabon Cisticola – W Gabon, E Congo and extreme W DRCongo.
  • C. a. imatong Cave, 1938 – extreme S South Sudan and NE Uganda.
  • C. a. entebbe Lynes, 1930 – NE DRCongo, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and NW Tanzania.
  • C. a. itombwensis Prigogine, 1957 – E DRCongo.
  • C. a. mauensis van Someren, 1922 – highlands of Kenya and adjacent N Tanzania.
  • C. a. ayresii Hartlaub, 1863 – Wing-snapping Cisticola – Angola, S DRCongo, extreme NW & NE Zambia, S Tanzania, N Malawi, Zimbabwe, E South Africa, W Swaziland and Lesotho.
  • Descriptive notes

    9 cm; 6–11 g. A tiny cisticola with very short, rounded tail and streaked upperparts. Male nominate race breeding has broad, creamy supercilium, with lores and area... read more


    Male song, usually in aerial display (but sometimes utters song elements while perched), in S... read more


    Short, moist grasslands on well-drained soils, with bare patches between grass tufts, including... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mainly small insects and other invertebrates, including grasshoppers (Orthoptera), bugs (Hemiptera), small beetles (Coleoptera), flies... read more


    Breeds Apr–Jun N of equator and Sept–Mar in S. Monogamous and solitary, but some nests less than 10 m apart, suggesting... read more


    Mostly resident, but may move locally away from burnt grassland in winter. Probably an altitudinal... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common in most of range. Has suffered some loss of habitat to agriculture in many areas.

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. & Dean, R. (2019). Wing-snapping Cisticola (Cisticola ayresii). 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).