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Mystery cisticola

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa
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Johan van Rensburg
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Mystery cisticola

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Sun Jan 02, 2011 8:04 pm

During a trip to Golden Gate Highlands NP earlier today, I encountered this cisticola and two others just like it. I got this shot and another of its tailfeathers, just as it flew off... That "bum shot" is the most useful of the two as it shows features of a cisticola that would normally be conclusive to make an ID call.

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First off, this is a long-tailed bird which eliminates many possibilities. Also the back is well marked, eliminating Lazy. Looking at distribution maps, this leaves only Wailing and Levaillant's

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Now, look at that tail! Definately not Levaillant's! Wailing with such white underparts?!? And that eyebrow?!?

That yellow bill? Can this be a juvenile?

Jeez... I need help!
727 Latest lifers: Hartlaub's babbler, Chirping cisticola, Coppery-tailed coucal, Red-billed spurfowl, White-browed coucal, Scharlow's turaco, Copper sunbird, Long-toed lapwing, Eastern bronze-naped pigeon, Malagasy pond heron, Soft-plumaged petrel.

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Barcud
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Re: Mystery cisticola

Unread post by Barcud » Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:35 pm

Hi Johan,

I think you hit the nail on the head with it being a juvenile. If you google search for photos of Levaillant's and Wailing Cisticolas, you will see some photos of Levaillant's very similar to your bird, including some which show a hint of a tail pattern similar to the one in your second photo and with the yellow on the bill.

Levaillant's is also a generally brighter looking bird than Wailing and the reddish wing panel also looks good for Levaillant's.

I'd hate to make a definitive call though, only going on comparisons with other pics here.

Interesting one to look up though, so thanks for posting this.


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