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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.

Large view

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


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!
726 Latest lifers: Common whitethroat, Swamp boubou, 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.

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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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