Cape Grassbird

(Roberts 661) - as part of Birds in the Overberg

Botanical Name: Sphenoeacus afer
Afrikaans name: Grassbird

The Cape Grassbird is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Sylviidae bird family group which includes birds such as Leaf-Warblers, Babblers, Warblers.

grassbird portraitDescription
Easily identified… The crown and face sides of the cape geasbird are rufous, except for white around the eye, and it has black malar and moustachial stripes on its white throat. The upper parts of this bird are brown with heavy streaking and the long tail is a lighter brown while the underparts are whitish with blackish spotting. The sexes are similar, but the juvenile has a streaked cap and is duller than the adult. The long, pointed, straggly tail, chestnut cap and facial stripes are diagnostic of Cape grassbird.   The Cape Grassbird has a height of 21 cms and weighs around 30 gms.  It mainly eats insects, such as beetles, grasshoppers and caterpillars, doing most of its foraging on the ground beneath vegetation.
The song is jangling and musical, and the call is a nasal pheeeo.

Distribution and habitat
Endemic to southern Africa, found in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, Swaziland and Limpopo Province; it also occurs in Zimbabwe’s eastern highlands. It generally prefers habitats with restios, rank grasses or ferns, such as fynbos and grassland.

Photo on the left courtesy of Brian Culver.

The Cape Grassbird is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 2 to 3 which are incubated solely by the female for approximately 14-18 day,  Egg-laying season is from about July-December in the Western Cape, elsewhere it is from roughly October-April and they are coloured grey.   The chicks are fed by both adults, leaving the nest after about 14-16 days. The female builds the nest with built of twigs, grass blades, leaves, lined with finer plant material.


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