Cysticols (pronounced little sister-tic-olas ) are a genus of very small insectivorous birds, formerly classified in the Old World Warblers of the Warbler family, but are now generally considered to be in a separate Cysticole family, along with other southern warbler genera. They are believed to be quite closely related to swallows and swifts, to nightingales and white-eyed. The genus contains about 50 species, of which only two are not found in Africa: one in Madagascar and others from Asia to Australia. They are also sometimes called Fantail Warblers due to their habit of visibly shaking off their tails, or specially birds from their nests.
The genus was built by the German naturalist Johann Jakob Kaup in 1829. Name cysticols is from ancient greek kisthos , "Rock rose", and Latin Colere , "Inhabit".
Range and habitat
Cysticols are common across the Old World's tropical and subtropical regions. Africa, which is home to almost all species, is the most likely ancestral home of the group. Cysticols are usually non-migratory with most species attached to and often distinguishable from their habitat.
A variety of open habitats are occupied. These include swamps, wet or dry grasslands, open or rocky mountain slopes, and modified human habitats, such as roadsides, cultivation, weedy areas, or pastures. Species preferring bogs can be found along the edges of mangroves, or in papyrus, common reeds, or Typha bogs. Cysticols are generally quite common in what is left of their preferred habitats.
The fan-tailed cysticola (or fan-tailed warbler) is widespread in the tropics and even in southern Europe. This happened several times as a vagrant to England.
Due to their small size (about 10 cm) and brown plumage, they are easier to hear than see. The similar plumage of many species can make them difficult to identify, especially in winter when they rarely emerge from the grasses. Many African species, in particular, are difficult to distinguish apart from their bells. Thirteen species are named for their bells, from "singing" and "chirping" to "bubbling" and "siffling".
Male cysticoles are polygamous. The female builds an inconspicuous nest deep in the grasses, often tying live leaves into the soft tissue of the plant's felt down, cobwebs and grasses: cup-shaped for a fan-tailed cysticole with a canopy of leaves tied-together or overhead grasses for camouflage, a full dome for golden double-headed cysticole. Average grip is about 4 eggs, which takes about 2 weeks to hatch. The parasitic weaver is a specialist parasite of Cysticols and Prinias.
In summer, male cysticoles of small species make spectacular display flights while larger species of perch are prominently displayed to sing lust. Despite its size and well-camouflaged, brown-streaked plumage, the male golden biceps of Australia and South Asia produces a small, brilliant splash of golden yellow in the dappled sunshine of the reed beds.
|Latin name:||Cisticola juncidis|
|English name:||Fan-tailed warbler|
|Body length, cm:||10|
|Body weight, g:||7–13|
|Features:||tail shape, flight pattern, voice, nest shape|
|Number, million pairs:||1,2–10|
|Conservation status:||BERNA 2, BONN 2|
A very small bird of rounded shape, with reddish plumage. The upper body and head are covered with brownish streaks, the bottom is monotonous whitish. Sides, chest and loins with ocher tinge. The tail is short and wide, with characteristic black and white spots on the underside. The beak is long, slightly curved, like that of a wren. The paws are pink, the toes are strong and tenacious. There is no sexual dimorphism.
Spread... The species is sedentary and nomadic, sometimes migratory. About 18 subspecies are found in Eurasia, Africa, Indonesia and Australia. The main European range does not extend north beyond 47 ° north latitude. The number of birds recorded annually in Italy is 100-300 thousand males. The number of northern populations fluctuates depending on the weather conditions in winter.
Habitat... Inhabits border areas of wetlands with high grass stand, overgrown wet ravines, wastelands, various types of cultural landscapes: grain and corn fields, meadows.
Biology... It nests among grass or in the lower part of bushes. Weaves a nest of an interesting shape in the form of a bag with a side entrance in the upper part. During the construction of the nest, the male weaves the nearby stems and leaves into it, and the female lines the nest from the inside with hairs and dry stems. From the end of March, it lays 4–6 eggs of white or blue color, speckled or not. Mostly female incubates, 12-13 days. Chicks hatch 14–15 days after hatching. There are 2-3 clutches annually. A sitting bird is difficult to identify, but in flight it emits a characteristic song, consisting of repeated persistent, agitated and high-pitched sounds. The current flight over the nesting area is represented by prolonged ups and downs. Insects and larvae serve as food, which cysticola searches for among plants or on the ground.
Golden cysticola belongs to the cysticole family, the Passerine order.
External signs of golden cysticole
Golden Cysticola is a small bird only 10.5 cm long, wingspan is 12-14.5 cm, its weight reaches 7-13 grams. The plumage is reddish in color.
Fan-tailed cysticola (Сisticola juncidis).
The head and upper body are covered with brownish speckled specks. The bottom is whitish. Chest, sides and loin of ocher tones.
Outwardly, the male and the female practically do not differ from each other.
The tail is short and wide, below it is covered with characteristic spots of white and black on the underside. Long, curved beak, like a wren. Paws are pink with strong and tenacious claws.
Spread of golden cysticole
Golden cysticola, depending on the habitat, is sedentary and nomadic, in some regions it makes flights. In Eurasia, Indonesia, Australia, Africa, there are about 18 subspecies. The main European range is located in the north no further than 47 ° north latitude. The number of northern populations of golden cysticola depends on climatic conditions.
The northern populations of golden cysticola are declining in winter.
Habitats of golden cysticola
Golden cysticola inhabits areas in wetlands with high and abundant herbaceous cover, wastelands, overgrown wet ravines, various types of cultural landscapes: corn and grain fields, meadows. Birds form pairs in their area for a long time. Golden Cysticola is a secretive bird and mainly hides in dense thickets, except for the nesting period, and it is very difficult to observe it in its natural environment.
Nutrition of golden cysticola
Golden cysticola feeds on various insects and their larvae, spiders and invertebrates, which the bird searches for on plants or on the ground.
Golden cysticoles form pairs in their area for a long time.
Reproduction of golden cysticola
During the mating period over the nesting territory, golden cysticoles demonstrate flight with long ascents and unexpected descents. A bird sitting in the thickets is almost impossible to notice.
Listen to the voice of the golden cysticola
But in flight, she gives out an amazing melody, consisting of alternating high and disturbing sounds.
Insects and spiders feed Cysticola.
Golden cysticola nests below under bushes or among dense grass. Its nest looks like an old bag or bottle. The side entrance is at the top. The nest is suspended between the stalks of cereal grasses. The male weaves a structure of leaves and stems, growing herbaceous plants, and the female arranges the lining of the nest with dry stems and hairs.
At the end of March, a clutch of 4-6 eggs appears in the nest, covered with a bluish or white shell with a small speck or without it.
The incubation of eggs lasts 12-13 days. The eggs are warmed mainly by the female. Nest-type chicks appear: naked and blind.
The female feeds the offspring alone for 13-15 days, then the chicks fly out of the nest. Golden cysticola usually rears 2-3 broods per year, it depends on weather conditions.
Golden cysticola is skillfully disguised among dry grass.
The number of golden cysticola
The size of the world population of golden cysticole has not been determined. Europe is home to 230,000 to 1,100,000 pairs. The number of birds is growing, therefore, it does not exceed the threshold values for critically vulnerable species. The state of the species golden cysticola is assessed as with the least threat to its numbers. The number of individuals in Europe is estimated to remain stable.
Conservation status of golden cysticola
Golden cysticole is recorded in the Bonn Convention (Appendix II) and in the Berne Convention (Appendix II), as a species in need of protection and coordination at the international level. Not only the birds themselves are protected, but also the natural habitat.
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