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Acrocephalus rufescens (Greater swamp-warbler) 

Rooibruinrietsanger [Afrikaans]; Papyrusrietzanger [Dutch]; Rousserolle des cannes [French]; Papyrusrohrsänger [German]; Rouxinol-grande-dos-pântanos [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

Distribution and habitat

It has populations scattered across Sub-Saharan African swamps, with one extending from south-eastern Angola and south-western Zambia to northern Botswana and the Caprivi Strip. Here it is locally common in patches Papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) in swamps and along the banks of rivers.

Distribution of Greater swamp-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).


It gleams insects from the stems of Papyrus (Cyperus papyrus), sometimes flying out of the reedbed to forage on lily pads, where it occasionally catches small frogs The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Insects
    • beetle larvae (Coleoptera)
    • moths
    • noctuid moth larvae
    • damsel flies
    • other aquatic insects
  • Small frogs


  • The nest is a deep cup built of Papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) and other reed leaves, attached to a number of Papyrus stems, usually 1.0-2.5 m above the water level.
  • Egg-laying season is from December-February.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for at least 14 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both adults, leaving the nest after roughly 14 days.


Not threatened although local destruction of swamps may be cause for concern.


  • 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.