Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)

Tree Pipit

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Motacillidae | [latin] Anthus trivialis | [UK] Tree Pipit | [FR] Pitpit des arbres | [DE] Baumpieper | [ES] Bisbita Arborea | [NL] Boompieper


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Anthus trivialis EU widespread India, AF
Anthus trivialis haringtoni
Anthus trivialis sibiricus
Anthus trivialis trivialis

Physical charateristics

Slightly bulkier than Meadow Pipit, with slimmer rear body making tail length more obvious, and slightly longer wings with narrower point.
Plumage pattern typical of small pipits but differs subtly from typical Meadow Pipit and Red-throated Pipit in combination of noticeably pale eye-ring, warm but not rufous upperparts, striking wing-bars, yellow-buff, boldly spotted breast, and little-streaked flanks.
At close range, quite large bill, noticeably pink legs and short hind claw are useful characters. Sexes similar, little seasonal variation.

Listen to the sound of Tree Pipit

[audio: Pipit.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 25 cm wingspan max.: 27 cm
size min.: 14 cm size max.: 16 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 12 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 6  


Eurasia : widespread


Breeds in middle and upper middle latitudes, and in Scandinavia up through subarctic to borders of and Arctic, thence down through boreal and temperate to forest tundra belt, overlapping in central Palearctic.
Mainly in continental but spreading marginally into oceanic climates, but avoiding more exposed windy and wet as well as torrid and arid conditions.
Like congeners, basically a ground-feeder and ground-nester, but unique among them in west Palearctic in attachment to trees and bushes as look-outs and song-posts, no less essential in breeding territory than suitable foraging terrain and nest-sites.
Accordingly shuns both open treeless and shrubless habitats and those where density of woody vegetation leaves insufficient open low herbage accessible.


Breeds April-June in North-West Europe. Nest site is situated on ground flat or sloping, in low cover, or more or less in the open. Nest is a shallow depression holding substantial cup of dry grass leaves and stems, often with moss foundation, lined with finer grasses and hair.
2-6 eggs which are Incubated 12-14 days by female only.

Feeding habits

Chiefly insects with some plant material taken in autumn and winter. Food taken mostly from ground, low herbage, and leaf litter, more rarely from twigs, branches, tree trunks, and stumps.
Occasionally takes insects after short aerial pursuit from ground.


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.

Anthus trivialis is a widespread summer visitor to most of Europe, which accounts
for less than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is
extremely large (>27,000,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although
there were declines in parts of western Europe and Fennoscandia (notably Sweden)
during 1990-2000, most populations to the east?including the key one in Russia?
were stable or increased, and the species underwent only a small decline overall.

Tree Pipit status Least Concern


Long-distance total migrant. Winters irregularly in Israel, in Persian Gulf states, where scarce, and possibly in northern Iran, but otherwise wholly in Afrotropics and Indian subcontinent. Main wintering area in Africa extends across from Guinea coast to Ethiopia in the west, south only to northern edge of equatorial rain forest, but in east extending south to Natal and Transvaal.
In autumn, all populations breeding west and those from Finland and even from north-west Russia move between south-west and just west of south into western Mediterranean basin and to Portugal, and thence into Africa. Northward passage in spring on a broad front. Higher proportion of birds overfly Mediterranean area in autumn than in spring.
Leaves north European Russia September to early October.

Autumn passage through Switzerland occurs late July to late October; at Gibraltar, autumn exodus from end of August to late September with continuance on minor scale until 3rd week of October. In southern African winter quarters, present late October-March. Northward passage begins March, with main movement through Mediterranean area in April and arrival on breeding grounds from early April to late May in north.

Distribution map

Tree Pipit distribution range map

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