Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis)


French: Cisticole des joncs German: Zistensänger Spanish: Cistícola buitrón
Other common names: Fan-tailed Cisticola

Sylvia Juncidis


, 1810,

Roccella, Sicily


Sometimes considered conspecific with C. haesitatus, and close relationship with C. cherina also postulated. Considerable vocal variation across massive range and complex speculated to warrant treatment as at least three species#R (subspecies groups largely based on this). Racial identity of birds in S New Guinea uncertain#R; they show some characters of laveryi, but might belong to an as yet undescribed race. Eighteen subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. j. uropygialis (Fraser, 1843) – S Mauritania and Senegal E to Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, SW Arabia and N Kenya.
  • C. j. perennius Lynes, 1930 – E DRCongo, Uganda, Kenya (except N) and N Tanzania, including islands of Pemba, Zanzibar and Mafia.
  • C. j. terrestris (A. Smith, 1842) – African Zitting Cisticola – Gabon and Congo, Angola, S DRCongo and S Tanzania S to South Africa.
  • C. j. cisticola (Temminck, 1820) – W France, Iberian Peninsula, Balearic Is and NW Africa.
  • C. j. juncidis (Rafinesque, 1810) – Western Zitting Cisticola – S France and Italy E to Balkans, Greece, W Turkey and Syria, also Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Crete and Egypt.
  • C. j. neuroticus R. Meinertzhagen, 1920 – SC Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Iraq and W Iran.
  • C. j. cursitans (Franklin, 1831) – E Afghanistan and Pakistan E to N Myanmar and S China (W Yunnan), S to SE India and Sri Lanka (dry lowlands).
  • C. j. salimalii Whistler, 1936 – SW India (Kerala).
  • C. j. omalurus Blyth, 1851 – Sri Lanka (except low-lying dry areas).
  • C. j. malaya Lynes, 1930 – S Myanmar, Thailand, Malay Peninsula, Nicobar Is, Sumatra and satellites and W Java.
  • C. j. tinnabulans (Swinhoe, 1859) – Double Zitting Cisticola – C, E & S China, Taiwan, Hainan, Indochina and Philippines (except Batan Is, Culion and Palawan).
  • C. j. nigrostriatus Parkes, 1971 – Culion and Palawan (W Philippines).
  • C. j. fuscicapilla Wallace, 1864 – E Java, Kangean Is, Bawean I and Lesser Sundas (E to Timor, Wetar, Kisar, Leti and Moa).
  • C. j. constans Lynes, 1938 – Sulawesi and adjacent islands (including Peleng, Muna, Butung and Tukangbesi).
  • C. j. leanyeri Givens & Hitchcock, 1953 – coastal areas of N Australia (extreme NE Western Australia and N Northern Territory), Melville I.
  • C. j. normani Mathews, 1914 – NW Queensland (S & SE Gulf of Carpentaria), in N Australia.
  • C. j. laveryi Schodde & Mason, 1979 – E Cape York and C Queensland coast, in NE Australia; also (possibly this race) S New Guinea.
  • C. j. brunniceps (Temminck & Schlegel, 1850) – Japanese Zitting Cisticola – S Korea, Japan (S from Honshu, including Ryukyu Is and Izu Is) and extreme N Philippines (Batan Is).
  • Descriptive notes

    10–14 cm; male 7–12 g, female 5–8 g. A small cisticola with a medium-short, rounded tail and streaked upperparts. Male nominate race breeding has rather... read more


    Male song, from perch or in flight, a “zip” or “tsip” note monotonously... read more


    Open grasslands, including seasonally flooded and grassy wetlands, meadows, fallow lands and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mainly insects and small invertebrates, especially grasshoppers (Orthoptera) in Palearctic; other prey include insect larvae, mantids... read more


    Season protracted, mainly Mar–Sept in Europe (rarely at other times, e.g. Nov in Malta), Mar–Jul in India, throughout year (... read more


    Largely resident throughout most of range, subject to local movements often linked to seasonal... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common throughout much of its range. European population estimated at c. 3,000,000–4,000,000 “pairs”, of which more... read more

    Recommended citation

    Ryan, P. (2020). Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis). 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 4 April 2020).