Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus)

Rock Pipit

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Motacillidae | [latin] Anthus petrosus | [UK] Rock Pipit | [FR] Pitpit maritime | [DE] Strandpieper | [ES] Bisbita Costera | [NL] Oeverpieper


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range

Physical charateristics

Quite large pipit with more robust form than smaller pipits. Shares Water Pipit’s mottled upperparts, and dark bill and legs, but differs in grey and white or smoky outer tail-feathers, dusky underparts.

Listen to the sound of Rock Pipit

[audio: Pipit.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 24 cm wingspan max.: 26 cm
size min.: 15 cm size max.: 18 cm
incubation min.: 14 days incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 15 days fledging max.: 15 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 6  


Eurasia : West coasts


Ranges from middle to upper latitudes in temperate, boreal, and arctic zones, rarely penetrating more than a short distance inland and almost entirely attached to rocky sea-cliffs and crags, rarely much higher than 100 m and often down to shore level. Avoids totally exposed situations, preferring sheltered gullies or inlets, and islands, even far offshore.


Nest site is in hole or hollow in cliff, from near base to top, or under thick vegetation, never far from shore. Nest as Water Pipit with inclusion of seaweed as material, building by female. 4-6 eggs, incubation 14-15 days by female only.

Feeding habits

Mainly invertebrates also some plant material. Feeds mainly on ground, but occasionally catches insects in flight by making short leaps or flying from perch. in cold spells in high mountains during breeding season, feeds around burrow-entrances of marmots.


This species has a very 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). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very 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.

Anthus petrosus breeds only in Europe, where it occurs in coastal areas of the northwest
and Fennoscandia. Its European breeding population is relatively large (>110,000
pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although the species declined in the United
Kingdom and Sweden during 1990-2000, populations were stable or increased across
the majority of its range?including the Norwegian stronghold?and the species
probably declined only slightly overall.

Rock Pipit status Least Concern


Faeroes population winters almost exclusively within breeding range. Most 1st-year birds from Fair Isle leave in autumn, and move south to Scotland or even Netherlands. Populations of mainland Britain and Ireland are basically resident with local dispersive movements, birds appearing away from breeding areas from September. Baltic and northern populations vacate breeding areas in winter, moving between WSW and south to Britain, Iberia, and western Mediterranean. Some birds reach North Africa.

Distribution map

Rock Pipit distribution range map

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