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Island Cisticola Cisticola haesitatus

This species has a very small extent of occurrence on a single island. However, there is no evidence for any recent decline in population or range, despite its restriction to dense dwarf-shrubland on lowland plains, a patchily distributed habitat that is moderately susceptible to future agricultural or infrastructural development. It therefore qualifies as Near Threatened.

Taxonomic source(s)
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Cisticola haesitata Collar and Andrew (1988)

10 cm. Small warbler. Streaked upperparts. Distinctly rufous uppertail and uppertail-coverts. Short tail. Similar spp. Socotra Warbler Incana incana has uniform greyish-brown upperparts and rufous wash to crown and nape, with longer bill, and lacks rufous on uppertail. Voice Song is repeated, short, metallic chip in flight, getting shorter and quicker as song progresses. Alarm call a short phut audible at close range. Subdued tititi ... also noted after alighting or at end of song. Hints General behaviour, aerial display-flights and vocalisations closely similar to Zitting Cisticola C. juncidis and Madagascar Cisticola C. cherina.

Distribution and population
Cisticola haesitatus is endemic to the Indian Ocean island of Socotra, Yemen. During extensive surveys of the island in 1993, 1999 and 2000, the species was found to be widely but patchily distributed in the lowlands, along the coast and inland. However, it was relatively common where it occurred, with up to 53 birds recorded per locality, and transect-generated population density estimates of c.35-45 individuals per km2 (depending on the survey season/year) in occupied areas (Davidson 1996, Porter et al. in prep.). An additional 1,000 pairs were discovered at higher altitude on the Plateau of Ma'la above Qalancia during February 2004 (O. Al-Sagheir in litt. 2004), putting the total population estimate at around 4,000 pairs (R. Porter verbally 2004). There is no evidence for recent or current population declines (Porter et al. in prep.).

Population justification
An additional 1,000 pairs were discovered in the Plateau of Ma'la above Qalancia during February 2004 (Omar Al-Sagheir in litt. 2004). The discovery of this new population puts the total population at around 4,000 pairs (Richard Porter verbally 2004), or 8,000 mature individuals, equivalent to about 12,000 individuals in total.

Trend justification
There are no new data on population trends; however, the population is still thought to be stable.

The majority of breeding localities are on plains below 100 m  (Dymond and Porter 1996, Porter et al. in prep.), mainly along the coastal periphery, apart from the recently discovered population on the Plateau of Ma'la (O. Al-Sagheir in litt. 2004, R. Porter verbally 2004) and one record from 850 m in the Hajhir (Hagghier) mountains (Forbes-Watson 1964). In recent surveys it has been found solely in low, dense dwarf-shrubland on silt or sand, reaching its highest densities along the coastal zone in halophytic vegetation (Dymond and Porter 1996, Porter et al. in prep.). Scattered larger shrubs of Tamarix and Suaeda are sometimes present. The distribution of such habitat on Socotra appears to determine the species's distribution, individual habitat patches being small and disjunct, and the total extent of suitable habitat is likely to be less than 100 km2. The only data on breeding is that a family group has been observed in mid-April (Forbes-Watson 1964).

No threats are known currently. In the longer term, land development in the coastal zone and on inland plains (e.g. for infrastructure or agriculture) would pose a threat, if sited incorrectly, through destruction and degradation of the species's habitat. The species's habitat is grazed by goats; it is not known if this is limiting the extent of suitable habitat.

Conservation Actions Underway
Extensive surveys in 1993, 1999 and 2000 have discovered several of the most important areas for the species (Dymond and Porter 1996, Porter et al. in prep.), and these have been incorporated into the conservation zoning plan of the Environmental Protection Council's masterplan for the development of the archipelago (Zandri 2000). Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue surveying coastal and lowland habitats to establish the species's range and population, especially in areas where optimal habitat remains (Dymond and Porter 1996). Clarify the status of the montane population. Continue to identify and monitor key sites and ensure that these are incorporated in the island's Conservation Zoning Plan. Carry out impact assessments for any development projects proposed at key sites. Investigate the effect of goats on population density and breeding success.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Davidson, P. 1996. Habitats and bird communities in southern Yemen and Socotra. Sandgrouse 17: 102-129.

Dymond, J. N.; Porter, R. F. 1996. The Socotra Cisticola. Sandgrouse 17: 145-147.

Forbes-Watson, A. 1964. Report on the Smithsonian Institution ornithological expedition to Socotra.

Porter, R. F.; et al.. in prep.. Bird conservation on the Socotran archipelago.

Zandri, E. 2000. Conservation zoning plan for Socotra. Environmental Protection Council, Sana'a.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Harding, M., Mahood, S. & Martins, R.

Al-Sagheir, O. & Porter, R.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Cisticola haesitatus. Downloaded from on 29/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 29/07/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and allies)
Species name author (Sclater & Hartlaub, 1881)
Population size 8000 mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 760 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species