American Pipit

Anthus rubescens
An American Pipit specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

Once considered to be the same species as the Old World Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta), the American Pipit is a sparrow-sized (6-7 inches) slender songbird of nondescript appearance. In summer, the American Pipit is gray-brown above with a tan breast streaked with brown. During the winter, the tan on the breast becomes lighter and the streaking more distinct. Other characteristics of the American Pipit include a white eye-stripes and slender bill. The American Pipit breeds primarily in Alaska and the high arctic regions of Canada. Smaller breeding populations occur in Greenland, Newfoundland, and at high elevations in the Rocky Mountains south to New Mexico and Arizona. American Pipits primarily winter along the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts of the United States. They also winter in the interior southeast, in the southwest, and in Mexico. In summer, the American Pipit breeds on arctic or alpine tundra. These habitats are characterized by low temperatures, lack of tree cover, rocky terrain, and the presence of snow and ice for most of the year. In winter, this species inhabits various kinds of flat, open habitat including beaches, mud flats, marshes, and fields. The diet of the American Pipit consists primarily of seeds, but insects are also eaten when available. American Pipits may be best observed while foraging on the ground, where they may be seen walking or running in pursuit of insect prey. This species may also be seen in flight, where it may be identified by its long wings and undulating flight path. The American Pipit is most active during the day.

DC Information

Uncommon migrant, March to May and September to November. Occasionally winters in Eastern Shore area. Usually seen in agricultural fields and

Specimen Information

This record is for the bird on the left in the exhibit (not shown here).
Date:  10/25/1930
Collected By:  Wm H Ball
Locality:  Alexandria Island, VA
Sex:  Male
Catalog ID:  325293
This record for the bird shown above (on the rock).
Date:  3/18/1888
Collected By:  CW Richmond
Locality:  Washington, DC
Sex:  Male
Catalog ID:  123798

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalization

Sound from xeno-canto. XC51412 Anthus rubescens (Buff-bellied Pipit)