The Tawny-flanked prinia is a fairly common bird within the wetter eastern part of the southern African region, where it is often seen in pairs or small groups in its favoured habitat – the grass and low shrubs alongside watercourses – where it may be quite conspicuous. It also frequents gardens and parks where the vegetation is suitable.
The Tawny-flanked prinia is a small bird, with a length of approximately 13 cm. The sexes are alike in both size and plumage coloration. The upper parts are pale greyish-brown; the eyebrow is off-white; the ear coverts are grey; the underparts and flanks are buffy; the graduated tail is brown. The bill is black; the eyes are pale brown; the bill is black; legs and feet are pinkish-brown.
Tawny-flanked prinias usually forage on bare ground, although they may hawk insects from the air. They feed mainly on invertebrates such as beetles, flies, caterpillars and termites. They may also feed on nectar, particular that of aloes.
Their call is a monotonous “przzzt- przzzt- przzzt”.
Tawny-flanked prinias are monogamous and they build a pear shaped nest with a side entrance placed near the top. The female lays a clutch of two to five eggs, varying in colour from pale buff to pink to greenish-blue. The eggs hatch after an incubation period of approximately 14 days. The nest may be parasitized by the Cuckoo finch (Anomalospiza imberbis).
The scientific binomial for the Tawny-flanked prinia is Prinia subflava; Prinia from the Javanese name for a prinia, and flavicans from the Latin for “almost yellow”. Thus the name describes a prinia that is almost yellow, which is accurate enough if somewhat unimaginative.