A diminutive little bird attracted my attention recently at the wetlands among some reeds. I could hear it before I actually saw it. It was a new find for me: a Golden-headed Cisticola (Cisticola exilis). This little warbler is the star of our #56 Bird Photography Challenge.
What does it look like?
The Golden-headed Cisticola is a tiny bird of only about 10 cm in length. It often remains hidden among tall grasses, but as was the case when I took the photographs, you are alerted to its presence by buzzing and whistling calls.
In breeding season, the male has a golden-orange head, which is crested when calling, with a paler chin and throat, and a boldly streaked black to dark grey and golden body. The tail is black, with paler tips. Females resemble non-breeding males, with buff-brown upper parts, heavily streaked black and dark brown, with a golden-buff rump and back of neck. The underparts are cream with buff tints, the wings are black, with each feather edged buff.
How does it behave?
The Cisticola mainly feeds on insects it takes from the ground among tall grasses but also from the seeds of the grasses among which it lives.
During the breeding season these tiny birds can sometimes be seen performing display flights, high above the grassland, consisting of a jerking, bouncy flight accompanied by a wheezing song, before diving back down into the long grass. Both the male and female are involved in nest building, but the female incubates the eggs on her own.
Did you know?
The Cisticola is known as the finest tailor of the birds. It builds a rounded nest with a side entrance near the top, from fine grasses, plant down and stolen spiders’ web. Leaves are usually stitched to the outer surface. This explains their common name: the tailorbird!
Where is it found?
The Golden-headed Cisticola is found from the northwest coast of Australia all the way around the east coast and southern coast to Adelaide. It is also found in China and India. It lives near coastal areas, swamp margins and wetlands. It likes tangled vegetation close to the ground.
The images in the gallery were taken at the Lake Borrie Wetlands, using a Canon 7Dii camera, an EF100-400 mm lens and 1.4 extender, hand held. Click on any image in the gallery to display in full screen.