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Species Guide
A photo of a Croaking Cisticola (Cisticola natalensis)
Croaking Cisticola

Croaking Cisticola

Cisticola natalensis

The Croaking Cisticola, known scientifically as Cisticola natalensis, is a member of the Old World warbler family, Cisticolidae. It is the largest of its genus, presenting a grey-brown plumage streaked with black above, and a contrasting whitish underpart. The tail is broad with a pale tip and is frequently flicked, a characteristic behavior of the species. Notably, it features a chestnut wing-panel and a robust bill.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the Croaking Cisticola, look for its size, which is larger than its congeners, and listen for its distinctive froglike croaking 'breep-breep' song. The bird's heavy bill and the chestnut coloration on its wing-panel are also key features that can aid in its identification.


The Croaking Cisticola favors rank grassland habitats, often found in proximity to swamps or bodies of water, where it can find ample insect prey.


This species is a resident breeder throughout Africa, south of the Sahara, where it can be found year-round.


The Croaking Cisticola is known for its frequent tail flicking and its elusive nature, often remaining hidden within grasses. It is polygamous, with males having multiple mates. These birds are more often heard than seen, especially outside the breeding season.

Song & Calls

The Croaking Cisticola is best distinguished by its song, a croaking 'breep-breep' that resembles the call of a frog. This vocalization is the most reliable way to identify the bird, as it is often concealed within its grassy environment.


During the breeding season, the female constructs a discreet nest, a ball shape with a side entrance, deep within the grasses. She ingeniously weaves living leaves into the nest's structure, incorporating felted plant-down, cobwebs, and grass. The clutch typically consists of 2-4 eggs.

Similar Species

While very similar to other members of its genus, the Croaking Cisticola's larger size and unique song distinguish it from its relatives.

Diet and Feeding

As an insectivorous passerine, the Croaking Cisticola feeds on a variety of insects, which it finds within its grassland habitat.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List has classified the Croaking Cisticola as Least Concern, indicating that, currently, there are no immediate threats to its population numbers.

Croaking Cisticola Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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