AMERICAN PIPIT

AMERICAN PIPIT(Anthus rubescens)

The American pipit is another name for the Buff-bellied pipit, and before, it was classified as the Water pipit (Anthus spinoletta). It is a small passerine bird in the same family as the wagtails. It walks and runs on the ground in search of insects and seeds while wagging its tail, and will change direction often. Is this to avoid predators or to pursue prey, or both?

This bird is around 15 cm (6 in.) long, and is light brown with darker streaks on the breast. It can easily be confused with sparrows, although one distinguishing feature is the bill, which is thin in the American pipit, not conical as for the sparrows. It has two lighter bands above and under the eye.

The Latin name ‘anthus’ refers to a ‘grassland’ bird, and ‘rubescens’ refers to the color ‘red’. As for the name ‘Pipit’, it likely has an onomatopoeic origin.

Although the vast majority of this bird species breeds in Canada, its’ nesting range is in the Arctic and BC. It can be observed throughout the country during its migration however, and this is how it is recorded on PEI, as ‘occasional’ or ‘uncommon’ sightings. The American pipit winters in the southern USA and Mexico.

American pipit - Rock Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park, ON - photo by Jonathan Hornung assumed
American pipit – Rock Lake, Algonquin Provincial Park, ON – photo by Jonathan Hornung (assumed)

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