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American Pipit


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The American Pipit is a small, slender, drab bird of open country. Although it appears similar to sparrows, it can be distinguished by its thin bill and its habit of bobbing its tail.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
5.5–6.7 in
14–17 cm
10.6 in
27 cm
0.7–0.9 oz
19–26 g
Other Names
  • Water Pipit
  • Pipit d’Amérique (French)
  • Bisbita de Agua Americana; Alondra acuática (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The American Pipit was long known as the Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta ), a wide ranging species with seven subspecies occurring from the shores of Great Britain and Scandinavia, and the high mountains of Europe and central Asia, to North America. Recent taxonomic studies, however, have shown that the three North American subspecies, along with the most eastern Asiatic one, are best regarded as a distinct species.
  • In an alpine population in the Beartooth Mountains of Wyoming, a snow storm buried 17 American Pipit nests for 24 hours. All of the nestlings that were 11 days or older survived, but only a few of the younger ones did.
  • The American Pipit was at least 4 years old, when it was recaptured and rereleased during a banding operation in New Hampshire.



Breeds in arctic and alpine tundra. In migration and winter uses coastal beaches and marshes, stubble fields, recently plowed fields, mudflats, and river courses.



Insects and seeds.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–7 eggs
Egg Description
Whitish with dense dark brown spotting.
Condition at Hatching
Downy and helpless.
Nest Description

Open cup of coarse, dried grasses and sedges, with lining of finer grasses and sometimes hair. Placed on ground, with overhanging vegetation.

Nest Placement



Ground Forager

Walks or runs while pecking at ground or gleaning from low vegetation, frequently changing direction; occasional short flights from ground or boulders to pursue prey. Feeds in large flocks in fall and winter.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

American Pipit numbers may be declining. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 20 million birds, with 52% spending some part of the year in the U.S., 87% in Canada, and 36% wintering in Mexico. They rate a 9 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and are not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.


Range Map Help

American Pipit Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

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