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Acrocephalus baeticatus (African reed-warbler, African marsh-warbler) 

Kleinrietsanger [Afrikaans]; Niini (generic term for warblers and eremomelas) [Kwangali]; Soamahlaka-sa-mefero [South Sotho]; Timba (generic name for cisticolas and warblers) [Shona]; Kortvleugelkarakiet [Dutch]; Rousserolle africaine [French]; Gartenrohrsänger [German]; Rouxinol-dos-caniços-africano [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Sylviidae > Genus: Acrocephalus   

Acrocephalus baeticatus (African reed-warbler, African marsh-warbler) Acrocephalus baeticatus (African reed-warbler, African marsh-warbler)

African reed-warbler. [photo Callie de Wet ©]

African reed-warbler, Paarl Bird Sancutary, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in Arabia and sub-Saharan Africa, where it is patchy across the Sahel but with the bulk of its population spread from Sudan through the DRC to Zambia, Angola and southern Africa. Here it generally prefers habitats either in or on the border of water bodies, such reedbeds of Bulrushes (Typha capensis), sedges (Juncus, Cyperus and Scirpaceus). It may also occupy shrubs and grasses near rivers, moving into drier habitats in the non-breeding season.

Distribution of African reed-warbler in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  


It mainly eats insects, plucking them from leaves and branches or catching them in flight.


  • Monogamous, sometimes facultative cooperative breeder; in a study in Namibia 88% of 65 breeding pairs did not have any helpers, the remainder had only one unrelated helper.
  • The nest is a deep cup built of reed leaves and grass, lined with finer plant material. It is typically attached to the stems of reeds, grasses, sedges, arum lilies (Zantedeschia), occasionally in the drooping branches of a willow (Salix).
  • Egg-laying season is from September-April, peaking from October-January.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 12.5-14 days.
  • The chicks are cared for by both parents and sometimes the helper, leaving the nest after about 12-13 days.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.