Cape Grassbird

Sphenoeacus afer

As its name suggests, the Cape Grassbird lives in areas of rank, tall grass as well as thick low-growing fynbos and stands of ferns, often on hillsides and in river valleys and usually near water. They are normally seen singly or in pairs. Cape Grassbirds follow an insectivorous diet, catching most of their food on the ground. Adults grow to 19cm in length and weigh between 26 and 34g.

Cape Grassbirds breed almost throughout the year, with a peak in spring and early summer. Pairs mate for life. The female builds the bowl-shaped nest of twigs, grass and leaves near the ground in a tussock of grass or a bush. The female incubates the clutch of 2 or 3 eggs for just over 2 weeks. After hatching, both parents feed the chicks, which fledge at around 2 weeks old.

The Cape Grassbird occurs only in South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and in a limited area on the border between Mozambique and Zimbabwe. In South Africa they are found in the Western and Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, Free State, Gauteng and the Highveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo. The IUCN currently lists it as “Least Concern” but also cautions that the population of the Cape Grassbird is decreasing due to habitat destruction (threatened by agriculture, urbanisation and invasion by alien trees).

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27 thoughts on “Cape Grassbird

  1. iAMsafari

    Nice photos of a striking little bird Dries, far cousin of our (Australian) reed warblers, which I’ve tried to capture on camera between dense reeds several times now – in vain.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      That seems to be a common challenge with warblers then, Maurice, as they usually are so good at hiding and even when seen clearly are often difficult to identify. Luckily the Cape Grassbird is an exception.

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      1. perdebytjie

        Ek noem hulle die VVV’s….Vaal Vervelige Voëltjies…sukkel my dood om hulle uit te ken.Interessant Dries, ons het ‘n kleurblinde vriend ,wat dit goed regkry.Hy sien maklik detail omdat hy nie op kleur gefokus is nie.

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        1. de Wets Wild Post author

          Ek is ook kleurblind, en sien makliker n luiperd in n boom raak byvoorbeeld, maar vir my is die VVVs net nog moeiliker om uit te ken – as die boek eers aandui dat 2 soorte net verskil omdat die een n ligpienk snawel en die ander n ligblou snawel het slaat ek sommer my boek toe… 😀

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