Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Zitting cisticola

Cisticola juncidis

Common name:

Order Passeriformes
Family Cisticolidae

This species has a very wide breeding range, from southern Europe and North Africa, across Africa all the way to South Africa, along southern Asia and into northern Australia.

These small passerines are 10-12 cm long and have a wingspan of 12-14 cm. They weigh 8-12 g.

Zitting cisticolas are common in both open and seasonally flooded grasslands, in grassy wetlands with little or no drainage and in a variety of man-made habitats, including agricultural fields, golf courses and gardens.

These insectivores eat a variety of invertebrates, which they glean from the bases of grass tufts and the bare soil. Their prey include grasshoppers, mantids, dragonflies, moths and caterpillars, mayflies, aphids, weevils, ants, spiders and snails.

The zitting cisticola breeds in April-September. The males are serially monogamous, mating with up to 11 females in a year. The male builds a show nest close to the ground and signals to females by singing. After copulating with the male, each female builds the real nest, a pear-shaped bag, constructed by weaving and sewing plant fibers and spider webs. The female lays 2-6 eggs which she incubates alone for 11-15 days. The chicks are mainly fed by the female, fledging 11-15 days after hatching.

IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range. Although the global population size is yet to be quantified, the European population alone includes 690.000-3.300.000 individuals, and represents less than 5% of their global range. The population is believed to be increasing and expanding in range.

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