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Schoenicola brevirostris (Broad-tailed warbler, Fan-tailed grassbird) 

Breëstertsanger [Afrikaans]; Umvokontshi [Xhosa]; Qovo [Tsonga]; Graminicole à bec court [French]; Breitschwanzsänger [German]; Felosa-de-cauda-larga [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

Schoenicola brevirostris (Broad-tailed warbler)   

Broad-tailed warbler, Cedara Farm, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. [photo Alan Manson ©]


For information about this species, see www.birdforum.net/opus/Fan-tailed_Grassbird

Distribution and habitat

It has localised populations scattered the DRC, extending southwards through Angola and Zambia to southern Africa. Here it is generally localised and hard to find, occurring in thick grassland in poorly drained areas and along grassy hillsides.

Distribution of Broad-tailed 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 is insectivorous, feeding on caterpillars, grasshoppers (Orthoptera) and beetles (Coleoptera).


  • The nest is an untidy, thick-walled cup built with broad grass blades and lined with finer grass. It is typically concealed in the center of a grass tussock or between closely-packed grass stems.
  • Egg-laying season is from November-April, peaking from November-January.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated by a dedicated adult, who sits tight even if touched or otherwise disturbed.
  • Not much is known about the chicks, other than that they are fed by both parents.


Not threatened internationally, but Near-threatened in South Africa, probably due to the overgrazing, frequent burning and trampling of its preferred grassland habitat. It is however well-represented in protected areas.


  • 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.