The African reed-warbler
, Acrocephalus baeticatus
, is a common, summer breeding inter-African migrant to South Africa. The first birds arrive in August, with the main mass of breeding birds arriving in September. After breeding, numbers drop off gradually with most birds having departed by the last week of April. Some juveniles over-winter.
We netted one in my garden this weekend.Large view
The African Reed Warbler is the smallest of the reed-warblers found here. A note-worthy feature is that the soles of the birds feet are yellow, something not mentioned in field guides. It has a noticeably flattened forehead and our bird only weighed 10 grams. The length of the primary wing feathers (in this case, well short of the rump) is a major ID-feature. From the picture, the worn state of the birds’ feathers can be seen, indicative that it has just arrived from its long journey from somewhere up north.Large view
Generally this warbler breeds monogamously. Some instances have been observed where unrelated males participate in the brooding and feeding of nestlings, suggesting that a polyandrous breeding system is sometimes used, probably in high predation areas. Warblers build a deep basket nest from strips of reed blades, grass and sedges, which is lined with finer grasses and placed in the densest reed patches available in their territory. The clutch consists of two to four white eggs.
The African Reed Warbler is usually seen alone or in pairs, moving through vegetation and clambering up and down plant stems. It eats insects and other small invertebrates.