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Chirping with Kloof Conservancy – Cape Grassbird

Find out more about this feathered Highway resident below.

IN this edition, we cover a bird that is not very common in our area, the Cape Grassbird. Unfortunately, most of the grasslands have been destroyed in our area, but if you can find time to walk in one of the surviving grasslands, you may just be lucky to spot one.

Also read: Chirping with Kloof Conservancy – The Fiscal Flycatcher


The Cape Grassbird is a smallish bird at 19 to 23cm in length and a weight between 27 to 34g.

The head is rufous (rusty red) as are the wing bars and the long, pointed tail. There is a distinctive pale, whitish eye ring, and the upper throat is whitish with black moustache stripes. Most of the rest of the body is streaked black and buff. Male and females look alike.


The Cape Grassbird is endemic to Southern Africa and is found in all the grassland and fynbos areas from the Western Cape through to Limpopo Province. It is absent in the Karoo and dry Western parts of the country.


As the name suggests, the Cape Grassbird will only be found in grasslands. It is an active bird, hopping incessantly from grass to grass or from one thicket to the next.


This is an insectivorous species, eating mainly beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars and other small insects. Most of the feeding is done on the ground.


The Cape Grassbird is monogamous and pairs for life. The nest is cup-shaped and is built by the female only. It is usually built just off the ground in a tuft of grass or tangled growth. The nest is usually well concealed. The female lays two to three eggs which take 14 to 18 days to hatch. The incubation is done exclusively by the female, but both adults take care of the chicks.

Predators and threats

The Cape Grassbird is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but there are concerns that numbers may decline due to the loss of grasslands and the reduction of fynbos in the Western Cape as a result of invasive alien plants.

Local information

To find this species, you will need to visit one of the few remaining grasslands in our area. Your best chances are in Krantzkloof Nature Reserve or Springside Nature Reserve.

Interesting facts

The Cape Grassbird is part of the family of warblers, and one of the few occasions that it stands still is when it sings its often long, jumbled but rather melodious call, usually from a tall shrub.

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