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Cisticola, Levaillant's

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa
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Johan van Rensburg
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Cisticola, Levaillant's

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Sat May 10, 2008 9:24 pm

Levaillant's Cisticola, Cisticola tinniens, is a resident territorial breeder found in most parts of South Africa, excluded only from the driest western parts. This cisticola is commonly found singly or in pairs or in small family parties in reedbeds, sedges, rank grass and similar vegetation growing in wet habitats usually near rivers or dams.

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The Levaillant's Cisticola builds a ball-shaped nest with a side entrance from dry grass, cobwebs and felted plant down. It is one of the few South African birds that likes to embellish when nesting, sometimes adding dark and reddish plant material as decoration to the outside of the nest. A soft “carpet” may even be added at the entrance to the nest which is usually built in a tuft of grass or weeds that stand in, or hang over water. The female adds to the lining during incubation. 3 – 4 eggs are laid anytime during September to April. They hatch in less than two weeks and the chicks fledge after another two weeks. The Leveillant’s cisticola is parasited by cuckoo finches

This cisticola forages low down in vegetation and over water, catching mostly small insects, but sometimes also small aquatic animals. It is vocal and conspicuous, perching on the top of tall grass stems, small shrubs and reeds while making its alarm call. It sings throughout the year.

Their average lifespan is 4 – 5 years.
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Re: Cisticola, Levaillant's

Unread postby Batmad » Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:03 pm

Saw mine in golden gat but did not have the camera on me at the moment so no pics :(
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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby Yolandé Oelsen » Sun Oct 05, 2008 10:45 pm

Can someone please ID these cisticolas for me??
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All were taken at Marievale today. :wink:
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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby wildtuinman » Mon Oct 06, 2008 7:25 am

Yolande, the first three pics you've posted looks like:

1. Levaillant's Cisticola.
2. Levaillant's Cisticola.
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Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby DotDan » Mon Jan 05, 2009 7:06 am

Here is a true LBJ needing an ID. :wink:

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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby deefstes » Mon Jan 05, 2009 11:03 am

Yup, it does indeed seem to start early this year. I apologise if my post is seen as snotty but I will not apologise for highlighting what is crucially important in birdwatching, observing more than just plumage features.

If I don't have anything positive to post then OK, I won't post. In fact that is exactly the reason why I generally don't respond to posts that include a picture and a one liner saying "please ID this for me" - especially if it is one member following the same approach over and over.

DD has not made himself repeatedly guilty of the same thing so I responded, a bit harsh perhaps, but valuable I should hope and especially so to a new birder. What I failed to say in my post was that this post is not a sticky on these forums for no reason and it is not titled "When asking for an ID" for no reason.

Most importantly though, I have a lot of time for newbie birders, I've been one myself and I benefited tremendously from more experienced birders showing me the ropes, giving me advice and pointing out where I'm going wrong. I have gone out of my way to help other new birders get into the swing and I'm sure some birders on this very forum can attest to that.

Again, apologies for coming across as snotty. So let me try again:

1. Your bird looks like a Levaillant's Cisticola. The very rufous cap and black, seemingly streaked, back points to that.

2. When identifying a bird, try to take as much of the features into consideration as possible. There is way more than just plumage features that can help in identifying a bird. This is even more true when it comes to these LBJ's as pretty much all of them have very unique vocalisations and very strong habitat preference. You'd be surprised how much easier they become when you start appreciating this. Other than that, the birder's quiver contains a number of other arrows, including an observation of the time of year, time of day, habits of the bird, foraging behaviour, association with other birds and the list goes on.

3. If you fall into a habit of posting pictures and one liners, having other birders identify birds for you, you will not get better and you will eventually dissuade other birders from even attempting to help. I personally find much greater reward in helping other birders become better and make their own ID's than sitting in front of a computer identifying a stream of images.

4. Birding is all about keen observation. I can't help but to think that if someone posts an image and a one-liner, that he treated the field observation with the same level of care. It may not have been the case but that certainly is the impression that I get. It leads me to think that such a birder is either chasing an easy life list or collating a photo collection. I can still understand the latter (although I'd have thought that the photo's would be of better quality then) but the former is just beyond me. Surely I'm not wrong for thinking that?

I'm done, you can take what I'm saying to heart or you can ignore it.
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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby Cherries » Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:11 pm

Good giggle right enough!

Am I correct in identing this as Levaillant's Cisticola? Golden Gate - marshy ground.

Took front and back just in case angle was not right.

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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby DotDan » Wed Feb 11, 2009 6:30 am

Hi Cherries

I think your ID is pretty spot on :thumbs_up:

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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby deefstes » Wed Feb 11, 2009 7:18 am

Cherries wrote:Am I correct in identing this as Levaillant's Cisticola?

:thumbs_up:
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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Wed Feb 11, 2009 7:52 am

BTW, Cherries, you are right about finding the best angle... for most LBJs a view from the back produces most information.

Generally speaking The pattern on the back and tail, facial features (esp the bill!!), crown streaked or not and some indication of patterns (lack of) on the chest will get you results. From this you can see that your best angle is 3/4 from behind, especially if the bird peaks back over its shoulder.

Of course, taking two pix from different angles (front and back) IS the ultimate solution! :lol: But often the birdies just won't co-operate like this LC, hey!

Good job!
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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby Cherries » Wed Feb 11, 2009 10:07 pm

Thank you DD, Deefstes and JvR.

It is my first Cisticola tick. Thankfully it was a poser! :wink:

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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby DotDan » Thu Feb 12, 2009 6:37 am

I know that feeling Cherries, the first time I ticked a Leivie Cisticola it was jumping around like a mad man....took me 15 minutes to get a picture to go and ID at home :lol:

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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby Kingfishergirl » Thu Feb 12, 2009 6:07 pm

Image

Help!!! I think this may be a type of cisticola or prinia, how far off am I? This pic was most likely taken in Rietvlei or Pilanesburg or Lion and Rhino Park. I hope that helps
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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby DotDan » Fri Feb 13, 2009 6:57 am

Levaillants Cisticola

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Re: Identification Help - LBJs

Unread postby Kingfishergirl » Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:49 pm

You say that very matter-of-factly. Thanks DotDan :clap: , another baby off my list (I think I have a few levaillant's Cisticola's in my unknown pile, I just don't know it)
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