Cisticolas now fall within the recently created Cisticolidae family; into which prinias, tailorbirds, camaropteras and other warbler-type genera have also been placed. The smaller grassland dwelling species, such as this Pale-crowned Cisticola , are known to exhibit some of the most fascinating breeding displays of any passerines. During the spring and summer months, the male Pale-crowned Cisticola attains a brighter plumage and performs remarkable aerial displays high above his territory. Whilst calling continually, he circles to such heights that he often becomes invisible to the naked eye. Eventually he tumbles back towards the earth, emitting unusual wing clicks.
Of the world’s 52 Cisticola species, only 2 occur outside of Africa and Madagascar. This remarkable photograph was taken by Hugh Chittenden in Midmar Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa. The male Pale-crowned shows a diagnostic golden crown in breeding plumage, and its high-pitched call has only in recent times become well known. In fact, until its call was discovered, this blonde-headed beauty was known as the Silent Cisticola!