Sprague's Pipit Life History


Habitat GrasslandsBreeds and winters in open grassland with good drainage and no shrubs or trees.Back to top


Food InsectsMostly insects and spiders, as well as some seeds.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

Nest Description

A cup woven of fine grasses placed on the ground. Some nests have canopies of long grasses, sometimes forming a complete dome.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:4-6 eggs
Egg Description:Pale whitish with brown blotches.
Condition at Hatching:Downy and helpless.
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Behavior Ground ForagerTerritorial male performs a display by flying from the ground into the wind, ascending to 50-100 meters off the ground, singing and gliding (often pushed backward by the wind), then flapping again and repeating, and finally plummeting straight down and flying into the grass. Picks prey from ground or grasses while walking or running.Back to top


Conservation DecliningSprague's Pipit numbers declined by over 3% per year between 1966 and 2015, resulting in a cumulative decline of 79%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 900,000 with 43% spending some part of the year in the U.S., 80% breeding in Canada, and 57% wintering in Mexico. The species rates a 14 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Sprague's Pipit is both a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species, and a Tri-National Concern Species, and it is on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List, which includes bird species that are most at risk of extinction without significant conservation actions to reverse declines and reduce threats. Loss of habitat as native prairie has been overgrazed and converted for farmland, has led to dramatic declines in Sprague's Pipit populations throughout its range. Back to top


Davis, Stephen K., Mark B. Robbins and Brenda C. Dale. 2014. Sprague's Pipit (Anthus spragueii), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Sauer, J. R., D. K. Niven, J. E. Hines, D. J. Ziolkowski, Jr., K. L. Pardieck, J. E. Fallon, and W. A. Link (2017). The North American Breeding Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966–2015. Version 2.07.2017. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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