Not so lazy, despite its name

VOICING DISAPPROVAL: The lazy cisticola does not like anybody entering its turf Picture: TIM COCKCROFT

Let’s Chirp with Tim Cockcroft

THIS week we are going to meet a bird that doesn’t quite live up to its name… the lazy cisticola.

This bird is a common resident of the edge of lower, scrubby areas with rank grass and weeds. It is a rather plain bird, but the rufous cap, fairly long tail and pink legs aid identification.

When describing “lazy”, one would expect a bird that is chilled… just sitting there, moving slowly, if it moves at all. One would expect it to be either slothful, reluctant to leave its perch, or, reluctant to emerge from the vegetation and show itself. One would also expect a quiet bird, too lazy to open its beak and utter even as much as a squeak. Well…

The lazy cisticola’s behaviour is anything but what I just described above. When it detects any intruder, it quickly flits to the top of a shrub or weed, rapidly flicks its tail, jumps around, flies from one bush to the next, voicing a distinct disapproval at anybody entering its turf!

Its call is anything but slothful, consisting of wails and clicks. If you go and listen to my recording at you will hear what I mean. So… why is it called “lazy” cisticola? Well, from the tiny “cloud-scraper” type cisticolas that cruise so high up in the air that they cannot be seen, to their slightly larger cousins, such as the Levaillant’s cisticola that performs a jerky flight over reedbeds, most cisticolas have a display flight of sorts… but not the lazy cisticola.

Despite the fact that it will throw a tantrum and a half at unwelcome guests, it is just too lazy to show off and show any aerial skill. It just flits about and complains!

So, with that, I’ll sign off for this week. Please remember I am available for birdwatching tours in and around the Port Alfred area. You can contact me on 072-314-0069 for more information. Until next time… happy birding!


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