American Pipit (Anthus rubescens)

American Pipit

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Motacillidae | [latin] Anthus rubescens | [UK] American Pipit | [FR] Pitpit farlousane | [DE] Pazifischer Wasserpieper | [ES] | [NL] Pacifische Waterpieper


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range

Physical charateristics

American Pipits are small, brownish, streaked birds that are sparrow-like in appearance, but with much thinner bills. Males and females look alike. They are slender, with gray-brown backs and buff-colored breasts. During the breeding season, their breasts may be streaked or unstreaked, but outside the breeding season, they are typically more heavily streaked.

Listen to the sound of American Pipit

[audio: Pipit.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 21 cm wingspan max.: 26 cm
size min.: 16 cm size max.: 17 cm
incubation min.: 13 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 13 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 7  


North America, Eurasia : Canada, Alaska, Northeast Asia


American Pipits are open-country birds in all seasons. They breed in alpine areas, near seeps, streams, lakes, or wet meadows. During migration and winter, they come down into the lowlands and can be found on beaches, marshes, agricultural fields, short-grass prairies, and mudflats.


American Pipits are monogamous, and pairs may form during migration or on the wintering grounds. They nest on the ground, usually in a sheltered spot, tucked under overhanging grass, a rock ledge, or other object. The female builds a cup-nest out of grass, sedge, and weeds, and lines it with finer grass, feathers, or hair. She incubates 3-7 eggs for about 14 days while the male brings her food. The female broods the young for the first 4-5 days, and the male continues to bring food for the female and the chicks. After brooding, the female joins in feeding the chicks. The young leave the nest after about two weeks, but stay close and are fed by both adults for another two weeks, after which they join loose flocks of other immature birds.

Feeding habits

During summer, American Pipits eat mostly invertebrates. During fall and winter, American Pipits complement their diet with grass and weed seeds, which can make up half their diet during these seasons.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
American Pipit status Least Concern


American Pipits are highly migratory and travel during the day in loose, straggling flocks. Fall migration begins in mid-September through October, when weather begins to deteriorate on the Arctic breeding grounds. American Pipits winter throughout the southern United States south to the tip of Central America. Birds return to the Arctic in the spring, with the peak migration occurring from late March through early May.

Distribution map

American Pipit distribution range map

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