The croaking cisticola (Cisticola natalensis) is an Old World warbler in the genus Cisticola. This genus is sometimes split off with various other southern warbler genera and given family status as the Cisticolidae.
These small passerines are found in rank grassland habitats, often near swamps or water. Male cisticolas are polygamous; the female builds a discreet nest deep in the grasses, often binding living leaves into the soft fabric of felted plant-down, cobwebs, and grass. The croaking cisticola's nest is a ball shape with a side entrance; 2-4 eggs are laid.
This is the largest cisticola. This warbler is grey-brown above, heavily streaked with black. The underparts are whitish, and the tail is broad, pale-tipped and flicked frequently. It has a chestnut wing-panel and a heavy bill.
It is very similar to other members of its genus. It is best distinguished from its many African relatives by its size and froglike croaking breep-breep song. The song is always the easiest identification criterion for this genus.
These birds are more easily heard than seen, and because of their small size (about 14 cm) not always easy to recognise, particularly outside the breeding season when they seldom emerge from their grasses.
- Birds of The Gambia by Barlow, Wacher and Disley, ISBN 1-873403-32-1
- Croaking cisticola - Species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds.
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