Grey-Backed Camaroptera

Grey-backed Camaroptera

About the Grey-Backed Camaroptera

A common but secretive Namibian resident

The grey-backed camaroptera (Camaroptera brevicaudata) is a small bird. It belongs to the Cisticolidae family and is one of four species in the genus camaroptera.

This family comprises about 160 species of warbler, mostly found in Africa and includes Cisticolas, Prinias, and Apalises.

Most of these songbirds have dull brown and grey colors measuring between 10 and 20 cm long. The grey-backed camaroptera is no exception.


The grey-backed camaroptera bears a striking resemblance to its relative, the green-backed camaroptera. So much so, that there is some debate about them being the same species but different subspecies.

The grey-backed camaroptera is around 11.5 cm long with a short-cocked grey tail, long legs, and short wings. It has ash-brown upper feathers, and whitish grey to cream underparts. The wings are olive-colored with slightly paler flight feathers.

During the breeding season, adults develop a grey back and crown. Juveniles have paler breasts and olive-brown upper parts.

Social Structure of the Grey-Backed Camaroptera

Grey-backed camaroptera are skulking passerines, typically found in low dense cover among thickets, riverine bush along savannah grasslands, and forest patches close to parks and gardens.

A vocal bird, the grey-backed camaroptera or bleating bush warbler, gets its common name from their call – a bleating ‘maa’ sound and a whining ‘shee…shee.” When they sing, it’s with a ‘twik, twik, twik, twik, twik’ sound that sounds like small twigs snapping.

When searching for these secretive birds, you’re most likely to hear them before you see them.

Lifecycle of the Grey-Backed Camaroptera

Females lay two to four white to greenish-blue eggs. These hatch after about 11 days and the chicks stay in the nest for a further 13 to 15 days.

They leave the nest before they can fly and follow the parent around the undergrowth.

Foraging Habits

Grey backed camaropteras eat invertebrates, foraging for them in the undergrowth or plucking them from leaves and stems. They’re known to eat beetles, bugs, flies, locusts, and ants.

In turn, pearl-spotted owls, and African goshawks prey on camaropteras.


Grey-backed camaropteras are resident non-monogamous breeders in sub-Saharan Africa.

They breed at irregular intervals about two or three times a year whenever food supplies are abundant, usually between October and April. They appear to delay their reproductive activities until they’ve built up sufficient protein reserves.

Likewise, they can manipulate their moult to coincide with times of plenty.

During the breeding season, camaroptera’s become extremely territorial, and are solitary nesters. Courtship displays involve the male performing whirring loop-de-loops in the air above their perch.

Nests are usually widely spaced and always well-hidden.

These birds construct a ball-shaped nest from leaves and spider webs lined with dried grass, leaving an opening at the top. They build these nests low down in bushes or trees and sometimes on flat ground.

Klaus’s cuckoo, Diedericks cuckoo, and the African Emerald cuckoo are brood parasites of this species.

Where to see Grey Backed Camaropteras

Grey-backed camaropteras are common across northern South Africa, central Mozambique, south-eastern Botswana, and Zimbabwe.

You can start your search for them in the following central and northern Namibian locations:

Guests at Arebbusch Travel Lodge may see them flitting about the vegetation while enjoying a meal at the restaurant or exploring the property.

Maximize Your Namibian Experience

Namibia’s birds and animals are a delight for nature lovers and safari-enthusiasts alike. If you fall into one of these categories, the best place to start your Namibian trip is at Arebbusch Travel Lodge in Namibia.

Here, you’ll find a tranquil destination filled with many bird species and perfectly located for access to Namibia’s prime birding and game viewing destinations. Book your stay at Arebbusch Travel Lodge today for the perfect start to your Namibian adventure.

Please Note: The details shared herein were correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.


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