Golden-headed Cisticola

A Golden-head Cisticola perched atop a reed
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Scientific Name: Cisticola exilis

Size: 9 to 11 cm

What does it look and sound like?

Cisticolas are distinguished by their rich golden plumage and pale pink-yellow legs. During the breeding season the male Golden-headed Cisticola attains a beautiful, unstreaked, golden crown. The female retains a streaked crown, similar to that of the non-breeding male. The song is a drawn out ‘zzzzt’, also a repeated metallic ‘link-link’ and a harsh ‘zeep’ in alarm. The Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis, an uncommon resident of Australia’s north coast, differs from the Golden-headed Cisticola in having a white-tipped tail. 

Where is it found?

The Golden-headed Cisticola occurs from around Carnarvon, Western Australia, through northern and eastern Australia to Adelaide, South Australia, on the mainland and King Island in the Bass Strait.

It also occurs from India and southern China to the Bismarck Archipelago.

What are its habitats & habits?

Cisticolas, like reed-warblers and grassbirds, inhabit grasslands, normally in the vicinity of water. They are conspicuous birds during the breeding season, often seen singing from an exposed perch at the top of tall grasses or performing their melodious display flights. At other times of the year they are generally quiet and unobtrusive as they feed low down in dense grass tussocks. 

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Front cover of Australia's Birdwatching Megaspots book showing a picture of an Eastern Spinebill

This species features in my book Australia’s Birdwatching Megaspots

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