Black-tailed Cisticola Cisticola melanurus


Justification of Red List Category
The very few records of this species and unclear ecological requirements and range mean that it is not possible to estimate the range size, population size or population trend. For this reason the species is classified as Data Deficient.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as poorly known and data deficient (del Hoyo et al. 2006).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Distribution and population

Cisticola melanurus is poorly known in north-east Angola from Malanje to western Lunda Norte and Lunda Sul provinces (Dean 2000) (recently in July/August 2010 7.5km southeast of Cacolo [Mills et al. 2011], and in 2005, c.30 km north of Calandula [Sinclair et al. 2007] - although separate searches at this location have found no evidence of C. melanurus [M. Mills in litt. 2016]) and south-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo from Gungu in Kwango (Pay Kikwanga) and Shaba (upper Lufupa River and Nasondoye) (Urban et al. 1997). It is generally uncommon but the extent to which it is threatened is unknown.


It occurs in climax miombo woodland where it is found in grassy patches and in the canopy of smaller trees (Dean 2000). While it may spend some time in mature miombo woodland, foraging can also occur in dense undergrowth at the edges of woodland where there is less canopy cover (Mills et al. 2011). It forages in pairs, or loose flocks, for insects (Urban et al. 1997; Mills et al. 2011)


It is not clear to what extent it may be suffering from habitat destruction.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
If possible, search for the species in climax miombo woodland in north-east Angola and south-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Study its ecological requirements and threats.


Outer primaries with heavily melanised rachi, stiff and glossy black and apparently used in mechanical sound production. Long, slender black tail. Rufous head and greyish upperparts, whitish below. Voice Song described as a series of burry phrases 0.2 seconds long and repeated every 1-6 seconds, lasting up to several minutes (Mills et al. 2011). Also a clicking or snapping sound produced by the wings and a weak 'seep' note (Mills et al. 2011).


Text account compilers
Bird, J., Butchart, S., Martin, R, Pilgrim, J., Shutes, S., Symes, A. & Westrip, J.

Mills, M.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Cisticola melanurus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/06/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/06/2022.