Skip to content





Knysna Warbler, known for its beautiful call, rediscovered on the Cape Peninsula<p>The skulking Knysna Warbler (Bradypterus sylvaticus) is a rather unassuming little bird that inhabits dense tangles and thickets in or on the edge of forests. It is extremely secretive as it creeps around the dense undergrowth, but it has a beautiful distinctive call that consists of clear high pitched notes that accelerate, ending in a trill. It is a very mysterious species and sought-after by foreign and local birders alike.</p> <figure><img class="responsive" src="" alt="" style="width:1069px;" /></figure>​​<p>‘Having run the contour path so many times in the last few years, hoping to hear the song of the Knysna Warbler and having failed, I had absolutely no expectation that I would hear it on that morning a few weeks ago.  I rounded a corner and slowed to listen to a Tambourine Dove's mournful hooting and, further up the slope above me, I heard the distinctive chipping followed by the rattling trill of a Knysna Warbler. I frantically fumbled my phone and recorded the song as I knew no one would believe me unless I had evidence and fortunately managed a few seconds of distant song, mostly drowned out by my heavy breathing, but it was good enough proof that Knysna Warblers were still on our mountain. I have been up again there about five times since and have managed to hear it again each time - it is almost as if I didn't believe it the first time,’ said Mike Buckham, Chairman of the Cape Bird Club.</p><p></p><p>The exciting news spread quickly with many birders doing the hike in order to try to see or hear the species. With a little patience, most were rewarded and managed to hear or even see the bird. Some people were extremely lucky and managed to get a few photos. </p><p>‘I am very excited to hear that this special little bird had been rediscovered in Cape Town. I want to urge visitors to this area of the mountain to keep a respectful distance, and stay on the trails. The number of Knysna Warbler in the area will be extremely low and all of us must try our utmost best to not disturb them. Birders are requested not to use playback – the playing of a recording of the birds call in order to coax them into view – as this can cause undue disturbance to the birds,’ said the City’s Deputy Mayor and Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Alderman Eddie Andrews.</p><p>The species is endemic to South Africa, thus, found nowhere else in the world. Despite its name, it has historically been found along the narrow coastal strip from Cape Town to about Durban. The Cape Town population has always been isolated, with their main range from Swellendam eastwards, however it was where most birders managed to tick off the species because they used to be a regular feature on the eastern slopes of the Peninsula.</p><p>‘It is wonderful to hear that Table Mountain National Park’s birding list has been increased with one more confirmed species. Well done to the regular birders who made the discovery and we hope that this will provide even more enjoyment to all our birders and nature lovers who visit the park,’ said Megan Taplin, Park Manager for the Table Mountain National Park.</p><p>‘We were thrilled to hear of the rediscovery of the Knysna Warbler in Cape Town. As both a threatened and endemic species, it is a particularly precious part of our collective natural heritage and these good news stories serve to inspire and motivate us as joint custodians of South Africa’s biodiversity. Cape Town is one of the most biodiverse cities in the world, and this is one of the many reasons to cherish our local biodiversity,’ said Andrew de Blocq, Avitourism Project Manager at BirdLife South Africa.</p><p>They are considered to be threatened and are classified as Vulnerable due to a relatively small and declining population pressured by habitat loss and degradation:</p><div><ul><li>historical sites included Tokai, the Constantia Greenbelts and Kirstenbosch</li><li>De Hel near Constantia Nek was the most famous of these sites, and was a compulsory stop for every foreign birdwatcher when visiting South Africa</li><li>unfortunately, about a decade ago, the birds all but disappeared from De Hel and many of their historic sites in Cape Town. Isolated records continued with the last being in 2019. The reasons behind this sudden catastrophic collapse are not clear and could be attributed to a multitude of factors. </li></ul></div><p>While the discovery of these birds does not by any means indicate that the species is out of danger of becoming locally extinct, it is hopefully the nucleus of a population that can become well established into the future.</p><p>Caption: Pictured here is a juvenile Knysna Warbler in the Newlands section of the Table Mountain National Park. The bird was photographed by John Graham who responded very quickly and captured this image of a recently fledged juvenile which proves that there is at least one breeding pair in the area!</p><p>A link to a soundclip of the Knysna Warbler’s unique call is available <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>. <br></p><div> <br> </div><p> <strong>Issued by: Media Office, City of Cape Town</strong><br></p><p> <strong>End</strong><br></p>2023-12-19T22:00:00ZGP0|#1d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70;L0|#01d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70|City news;GTSet|#62efe227-07aa-45e7-944c-ceebacca891dGP0|#d6f3a35b-84c5-4b63-a6b0-0d9a6c81e329;L0|#0d6f3a35b-84c5-4b63-a6b0-0d9a6c81e329|bird life south africa;GTSet|#2e3de6c1-9951-4747-8f53-470629a399bb;GP0|#80543a25-0fa0-4578-ac1b-071556918dd9;L0|#080543a25-0fa0-4578-ac1b-071556918dd9|Endemic species10

You have disabled JavaScript on your browser.
Please enable it in order to use City online applications.